Cinnamon clethra

Clethra acuminata

Photo/Illustration: 
William Cullina
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Cinnamon clethra (Clethra acuminata)
KLETH-rah ah-kew-min-AY-tah
Genus:  Clethra
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.
Noteworthy Characteristics:  Native to rich mountain woods and streamsides in the southern Appalachians from Pennsylvania to Georgia.
Care:  Provide full sun to light shade and moist soil. It benefits from more shade farther south.
Propagation:  Root cuttings in early summer, or start seeds in containers outdoors in spring or fall.
Problems:  Generally trouble-free, but fungal dieback and root rot sometimes affect plants.

Overview

Height
6 ft. to 10 ft.
Spread
6 ft. to 10 ft.
Light
Full Sun to Part Shade
Moisture
Medium Moisture
Maintenance
Low
Characteristics
Attracts Butterflies,
Fragrant Flowers,
Interesting Bark,
Native,
Showy Fall Foliage,
Showy Flowers
Bloom Time
Early Summer
Flower Color
White
Uses
Beds and Borders,
Waterside
Style
Woodland Garden
Seasonal Interest
Summer Interest
Type
Shrubs

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