Larger in all respects than common sweet pepperbush (Clethra alnifolia), this sizable shrub or small understory tree grows 8 to 12 feet tall and wide. In early summer, long, slender racemes composed of small ivory flowers appear, then give way to peppercorn-shaped seed capsules that swoop out from the branch tips in fall. About the same time, lance-shaped leaves become a glowing golden yellow before falling to reveal the reddish brown bark. The bark peels in small, irregular patches in the fashion of sycamores (Plantus occidentalis) to expose a dusty gray under-bark. Cinnamon clethra is a good choice for a woodland garden, where the tiered branches and elegant stems look captivating against new fallen snow.