About 30 species of deciduous, small trees and shrubs. Leaves alternate, simple, usually serrate. Flowers white, often fragrant, in simple or compound clusters, 5 sepals, 5 petals, and 10 stamens. Fruit a 3-valved capsule. Native to the tropics and subtropics of Asia and Central and South America, also southeastern North America and Mexico.
Clethra: from the Greek, klethra, alder, to which the leaves resemble.