Clethra alnifolia: Sweet Pepperbush
Latin name: Clethra alnifolia
Common name: Sweet Pepperbush
Flowers: White, 2-6” spikes, blooms July - August10,12
Fruit or cones: Dark brown seed capsules with 1/8” diameter12
Height & Width: 3-8ft tall, 4-6ft wide10,12
Type: Deciduous shrub10,12
Wetland indicator category**: FAC, FACW17
Growth rate: Medium19
Light: Full sun to part shade10,12
Moisture: Wet - moist10
Soil*: Ph< 6.8, sand and clay soils10
Zones: 3 to 912
Origin: Native to the lower 48 states10
Ecosystem benefits: Attracts bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies with flowers. Other mammals eat the fruit10,12.
Features: The flowers of this shrub an aesthetically pleasing and are beneficial because they attract hummingbirds, bees, and butterflies. The fruit of this shrub also provide food for some mammals. This shrub offers multiple seasons of interest with summer blooms, spring foliage, yellow fall color, and exfoliating bark in the winter10,12.
Siting: This shrub would do well in a raingarden or a spot in the yard that has a high content of sand and clay that stays moist12.
Care: Plant so root flare is visible at soil surface14. At planting, water the root ball daily with two gallons of water per inch of trunk diameter for two weeks, every other day for two months and then weekly until established. Modify water recommendations to reflect site drainage and rainfall. Apply 3” of mulch over the planted area. Do not allow mulch to touch the trunk14.
Pests: Plants are relatively pest resistant if cultural preferences are met10,12.
Author: Cy Gettliffe
Image source: https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/FullImageDisplay.aspx?documentid=1663
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- USDA. Plant wetland indicator status. (n/d). Retrieved from http://plants.usda.gov/wetland.html
- Vincent, E., Environmental horticulturist Clemson University, personal communication.
- Clemson Extension. Carolina Yards Plant Database. Retrieved from https://www.clemson.edu/extension/carolinayards/plant-database/index.htm
- Gettliffe, C., Senior student of Horticulture, Clemson University, personal knowledge.
*Soil pH is determined using a professional soil test. Contact your Clemson University County Extension service for assistance www.clemson.edu/extension/. Click on “local offices”.
**2012 Plant Wetland Indicator categories (quantitative derived) http://plants.usda.gov/wetinfo.html
|Indicator Code||Indicator Status||Comment|
|OBL||Obligate Wetland||Almost always is a hydrophyte, rarely in uplands|
|FACW||Facultative Wetland||Usually is a hydrophyte but occasionally found in uplands|
|FAC||Facultative||Commonly occurs as either a hydrophyte or non-hydrophyte|
|FACU||Facultative Upland||Occasionally is a hydrophyte but usually occurs in uplands|
|UPL||Obligate Upland||Rarely is a hydrophyte, almost always in uplands|