summersweet clethra Clethraceae Clethra
alnifolia L. symbol: CLAL3
Leaf: Alternate, simple, finely serrated margin, obovate, 2 to 3 1/2 inches long, glabrous, shiny dark green above, paler below.
Flower: Small white flowers occurring in dense clusters on long 3 to 6 inch terminal spikes, appearing in mid to late summer.
Fruit: Brown dry capsules, occurring in long clusters, persistent through the winter.
Twig: Slender and scruffy brown; buds with loose scales, the terminal is much larger than the laterals; leaf scar with one bundle scar.
Bark: Grayish, eventually separating into loose strips.
Form: Dense shrub up to 10 feet tall, often root suckers to form thickets.
Looks like: sweetspire - swamp doghobble - coast leucothoe - fetterbush lyonia
Additional Range Information: Clethra alnifolia is native to North America. Range may be expanded by planting. See states reporting summersweet clethra.
More Information: Fall Color
External Links: USDAFS Additional Silvics - USDA Plants Database
All material © 2017 Virginia Tech Dept. of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation; Photos and text by: John Seiler, Edward Jensen, Alex Niemiera, and John Peterson