FloraFinder.org
Home   About Us   Want to Help?   FAQ  
Searching   Image Use Biblio

Clethra alnifolia

Clethra alnifolia L.

Clethra alnifolia L. var. tomentosa (Lam.) Michx.

Clethra tomentosa Lam.

Sweet Pepperbush

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae (from Stearn’s Botanical Latin)
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassAsteridaeA large class that encompasses asters
OrderEricalesTea, persimmon, blueberry, Brazil nut, azalea, many others
FamilyClethraceaeClethra (white alder) family
GenusClethraFrom Greek word for alder, which has similar leaves
SpeciesalnifoliaWith leaves like the genus Alnus

About plant names...

Sweet pepperbush is native to the temperate regions of eastern North America. Pepperbush has no relation to peppercorns or peppers, but its seed capsules resemble peppercorns.

Identification: This deciduous woody shrub, 5-8' (1.5-2.4 m) tall and 4-6' (1.2-1.8 m) around, has multiple stems, is most often found near fresh water in areas that are at least seasonally wet. The shrubs form densely packed colonies. Leaves are dense, alternate, 1½-4" (3.8-10 cm) long and 1-2" (2.5-5 cm) wide. The leaves have a prominent vein structure and serrated edges, and are usually shaped like ovals with pointed ends. In the fall, they are yellow-green to yellow-brown. The pleasant-smelling flowers are white to pink, in narrow cone-like clusters 4" (10 cm) × ¾" (1.9 cm). Individual flowers are ⅛-⅜" (5-10 mm) around. In the fall, the flowerheads are filled with small oval seed capsules that persist through the winter. Each capsule has three sections.

See also these cultivated varieties, 'Hummingbird', and 'Ruby Spice'.

Online References:

Clethra alnifolia at the University of Connecticut Plant Database

Clethra alnifolia at the Ohio State University PLANTFacts database

Clethra alnifolia on Erv Evans' site at the North Carolina State University College of Agriculture and Life Sciences

Clethra alnifolia on the USDA Forest Service's Fire Effects Information Database

Clethra alnifolia at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

Clethra alnifolia (Sweet Pepperbush)

9/13/2010 · Burge’s Pond, Westford, MA
≈ 4½ × 6" (11 × 15 cm) ID is uncertain

Clethra alnifolia (Sweet Pepperbush)

8/13/2012 · Squannacook River Wildlife Management Area, Groton, Shirley, & Townsend, MA
≈ 3½ × 3½" (9.7 × 9.2 cm)

Clethra alnifolia (Sweet Pepperbush)

9/13/2010 · Burge’s Pond, Westford, MA
≈ 5 × 3½" (13 × 9.2 cm) ID is uncertain

Clethra alnifolia (Sweet Pepperbush)

8/4/2013 · Barry’s, Acton, MA
≈ 5 × 8" (13 × 19 cm)

Clethra alnifolia (Sweet Pepperbush)

9/13/2010 · Burge’s Pond, Westford, MA
≈ 7 × 4½" (17 × 11 cm) ID is uncertain

Clethra alnifolia (Sweet Pepperbush)

8/13/2012 · Squannacook River Wildlife Management Area, Groton, Shirley, & Townsend, MA
≈ 5 × 4" (12 × 10 cm)

Clethra alnifolia (Sweet Pepperbush)

9/13/2010 · Burge’s Pond, Westford, MA
≈ 3½ × 5" (9.2 × 13 cm) ID is uncertain

Clethra alnifolia (Sweet Pepperbush)

9/7/2010 · Tower Hill Botanic Garden, Boylston, MA
≈ 11 × 7" (27 × 18 cm)

Clethra alnifolia description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 17 Oct 2013.

© FloraFinder.org. All rights reserved.


 

Clethra alnifolia (Sweet Pepperbush)

9/13/2010 · Burge’s Pond, Westford, MA
≈ 2½ × 3½" (6.6 × 9.8 cm) ID is uncertain

Clethra alnifolia (Sweet Pepperbush)

8/4/2013 · Barry’s, Acton, MA
≈ 8 × 6" (20 × 14 cm)

Clethra alnifolia (Sweet Pepperbush)

9/13/2010 · Burge’s Pond, Westford, MA
≈ 5 × 8" (13 × 19 cm) ID is uncertain

Clethra alnifolia (Sweet Pepperbush)

11/22/2011 · Pearl Hill State Park, Townsend, MA
≈ 3 × 3½" (7.5 × 9.5 cm) ID is uncertain

Clethra alnifolia (Sweet Pepperbush)

9/13/2010 · Burge’s Pond, Westford, MA
≈ 5 × 8" (13 × 19 cm) ID is uncertain

Clethra alnifolia (Sweet Pepperbush)

9/13/2010 · Burge’s Pond, Westford, MA
≈ 4 × 6" (10 × 15 cm) ID is uncertain

Clethra alnifolia (Sweet Pepperbush)

8/13/2012 · Squannacook River Wildlife Management Area, Groton, Shirley, & Townsend, MA
≈ 6 × 5" (16 × 13 cm)

Clethra alnifolia (Sweet Pepperbush)

8/13/2012 · Squannacook River Wildlife Management Area, Groton, Shirley, & Townsend, MA
≈ 4 × 3½" (10 × 9.2 cm)

Clethra alnifolia (Sweet Pepperbush)

8/4/2013 · Barry’s, Acton, MA
≈ 5 × 8" (13 × 19 cm)

Range: Zones 3-9:

About this map...