Itea virginica (Virginia Sweetspire) is a woody landscape shrub that has recently gained much popularity in the landscape. Several cultivars of Itea have been selected for fall leaf color and plant habit. Visual identification of some of these cultivars is difficult and confusion exists in the trade. RAPDs (randomly amplified polymorphic DNA) were used to identify Itea virginica cultivars. A single 10-base primer was sufficient to separate the cultivar Saturnalia from the cultivar Henry's Garnet. Two dwarf cultivars of I. virginica, `Merlot' and `Sprinch' (= Little Henry), were separable from `Henry's Garnet' using a single 10-base primer. A primer that distinguishes between these two dwarf cultivars has not yet been found. The technique of RAPDs appears sufficiently sensitive and repeatable to resolve questions of identity that may exist among several cultivars of Itea.
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