This evergreen shrub or small tree is native to the semitropical forest of Madeira and is a member of the small plant family Clethraceae that is distantly related to azaleas. The plant is narrowly upright and grows about 20′ tall by 13′ wide. It has dense, dark green glossy leaves that are 3-6″ long, oblanceolate, and set off the small, white fragrant flowers. The flowers are 1/3″ across, similar in appearance to those of lily the valley, and carried in lax panicles 3-6″ long from early to mid summer. They are attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies and are good cut flowers. Plants may be grown in pots and taken inside during cold weather. The genus name Clethra, , is from the Greek word klethra, meaning alder, and refers to the resemblance of the leaves to those of alders.  The specific epithet, arborea, comes from the Latin word, arbor, meaning tree.

Type: Evergreen shrub or small tree

Outstanding Feature: Fragrant lily-of-the-valley like flowers

Form: Broadly conical

Growth Rate: Moderate

Bloom: Terminal panicles of fragrant, white, lily-of-the-valley- like flowers in early to mid summer

Size: 20′ H x 13′ W

Light: Partial or dappled shade

Soil: Fertile, medium moist, well-drained, acidic

Hardiness: Zones 8-10

Care: Trim lightly if needed; fertilize every 2 months if grown in a pot

Pests and Diseases: None of significance

Propagation: Seed, cuttings, air layering

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

By Karen