Clethra alnifolia  L. - Summersweet


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Clethera alnifolia - (image 1 of 4)



Family: Clethraceae


Moist acid soils.




Native range extends from TX along the coastal states to ME.


Perennial, suckering, woody shrub to about 8' high and 6' wide. Leaves alternate, simple, obovate, 2-4" long and 3/4-2" wide. Sharply serrate, upper surface glabrous and dark green. Flowers normally white, petals 5, fragrant, in upright racemes, both terminal and auxiliary.    


Flowers July into August

Wetland indicator: Facultative Wetland

The last three images are of the cultivar 'Ruby spice', with pink flowers. The plant is a good addition to the landscape, perfect for moist or wet areas. Fall color can be a good yellow although rarely spectacular. Tends to to need rejuvenation pruning on a regular basis. The fragrance reminds me of bubblegum.


Dirr, Michael A. 1998. Manual of Woody Landscape Plants: Their Identification, Ornamental Characteristics, Culture, Propagation and Uses.
5th ed. Champaign, Illiois: Stipes Publishing L.L.C.


USDA, NRCS. 2002. The PLANTS Database, Version 3.5 (

National Plant Data Center, Baton Rouge, LA 70874-4490 USA.




 Michael Hough 2004