WHITE ALDER SWEET PEPPERBUSH ALDERLEAVED CLETHRA
(Clethra alnifolia) White Alder family
Flowers - Very fragrant, white, about 1/3 in. across, borne in
long, narrow, upright, clustered spikes, with awl-shaped bracts.
Calyx of 5 sepals; 5 longer petals; 10 protruding stamens, the
style longest. Stem: A much-branched shrub, 3 to
10 ft. high.
Leaves: Alternate, oblong or ovate, finely saw-edged above the
middle at least, green on both sides, tapering at base into short
Preferred Habitat - Low, wet woodland and roadside thickets;
swamps; beside slow streams; meadows.
Flowering Season - July-August.
Distribution - Chiefly near the coast, in States bordering the
Like many another neglected native plant, the beautiful sweet
pepperbush improves under cultivation; and when the departed
lilacs, syringa, snowball, and blossoming almond, found with
almost monotonous frequency in every American garden, leave a
blank in the shrubbery at midsummer, these fleecy white spikes
should exhale their spicy breath about our homes. But wild
flowers, like a prophet, may remain long without honor in their
own country. This and a similar but more hairy species found in
the Alleghany region, the MOUNTAIN SWEET PEPPERBUSH (C.
acuminata), with pointed leaves, pale beneath, and spreading or
drooping flower-spikes, go abroad to be appreciated. Planted
beside lakes and streams on noblemen's estates, how overpowering
must their fragrance be in the heavy, moisture-laden air of
England! Even in our drier atmosphere, it hangs about the
thickets like incense.
ROUND-LEAVED PYROLA; PEAR-LEAVED, or FALSE WINTERGREEN; INDIAN or
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