Also known as cinnamon pepperbush, this deciduous shrub or small tree is native to the Appalachian Mountains of the southeastern US. It grows up to 8-20′ tall and has an attractive horizontal branching pattern. The alternate leaves are 2-6″ long, have pubescent undersides and a pointed tip, and are dark green before turning yellow gold in the fall. In summer, 3-8″ drooping racemes of white, bell-shaped flowers with extruded stamens appear, opening from the base to the tip. The flowers have a honey-like fragrance and are attractive to butterflies, bees, and hummingbirds. Peppercorn-shaped seed capsules follow in the fall, persist into winter and are attractive to birds. Further interest in winter is provided by the exfoliation of the outer bark of mature stems to reveal the cinnamon colored inner bark. Mountain pepperbush is a good choice for native plant, woodland, fragrance, butterfly, hummingbird and pollinator gardens. The genus name, Clethra, is the Greek word meaning alder. The specific epithet, acuminata, is from the Latin word acuminare, meaning to sharpen and refers to the pointed leaf tip. Photo Credit  David J. Stang

Flowering raceme

Type: Flowering deciduous shrub

Outstanding Features: Fragrant white flowers, exfoliating cinnamon-colored bark

Form: Rounded to oval with horizontal branching

Growth Rate: Moderate

Bloom: Racemes of white, fragrant, bell-shaped flowers in summer

Size: 8-20′ H x 4-6′ W

Light: Sun to dappled shade but best flowering in sunny site

Soil: Average, medium moist, well-drained, slightly acidic; tolerates dry soil

Hardiness: Zones 6-7

Care: Prune to maintain desired form

Pests and Diseases: Generally healthily but can suffer damage from root rot and fungal dieback

Propagation: Root cuttings, softwood cuttings, seed

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

By Karen