Clethra alnifolia
Common name: 
Sweet Pepperbush
KLETH-ra al-ni-FO-lee-ah
Native to (or naturalized in) Oregon: 
  • Broadleaf deciduous shrub, 4-8 ft (1-2.5 m).  Leaves, simple, alternate, 4-10 cm long and 2-6 cm wide, acute to short acuminate, cuneate, sharply serrate, usually entire toward base, glossy medium to dark green.  Flowers white, 5-petaled, in upright clusters, 5-15 cm long, appear in mid-summer, and effective for 4-6 weeks.  Fruit are dry capsules, 4 mm, which persist through winter.
  • Sun to partial shade.  Moist, acid soils, grows naturally in wet places.
  • Hardy to USDA Zone 4     Native from Maine to Florida and coastal Texas.   A number of cultivars are available (see Dirr, 2009), including 'Ruby Spice'.
  • clethra: from the Greek, klethra, alder. alnifolia, alder-leaved.
  • Oregon State Univ. campus: southeast Cordley Hall.
Click image to enlarge
  • plant habit, early summer

    plant habit, early summer

  • expanding shoot tip

    expanding shoot tip

  • plant habit, summer flowering

    plant habit, summer flowering

  • flower clusters and leaves

    flower clusters and leaves

  • leaves, flower cluster and flowers

    leaves, flower cluster and flowers

  • fruit clusters and leaves

    fruit clusters and leaves

  • leaves and seed clusters, fall

    leaves and seed clusters, fall

  • winter twig and seed cluster

    winter twig and seed cluster