Clethra acuminata

27 Aug

Clethra acuminata (28/08/2014, Rue de la Pointe Park, Brest, France)

Clethra acuminata (28/08/2014, Rue de la Pointe Park, Brest, France)

Position: Full sun to dappled shade

Flowering period: Summer

Soil: Moist, well drained

Eventual Height: 4m

Eventual Spread: 4m

Hardiness: 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b

Family: Clethraceae

Clethra acuminata is a deciduous shrub with a tiered, bushy habit. Its mid green leaves are ovate with serrate margins, up to 15cm long and 5cm broad. Its leaves turn yellow before they fall in autumn. Its bark exfoliates to reveal a cinnamon colored inner bark with age. Its fragrant white/ cream flowers appear as long racemes which are up to 20cm long. Its blue/ black fruit appear as small capsules. Its roots may produce suckers.

Clethra acuminata Flower (28/08/2014, Rue de la Pointe Park, Brest, France)

Clethra acuminata Flower (28/08/2014, Rue de la Pointe Park, Brest, France)

Clethra acuminata, commonly known as Cinnamon Bark Clethra or Mountain Pepperbush, is native to north east USA in the south Appalachian Mountains. In its native habitat it grows as an understory shrub and in stream side locations.

The etymological root of the binomial name Clethra is derived from the ancient Greek klhqrh, a name given to Alder, the leaves of which resemble this plant. Acuminata is derived from the Latin acuminatus meaning ‘sharp’ or ‘pointed’.

The landscape architect may find Clethra acuminata useful as a large deciduous shrub with attractive fragrant flowers and attractive autumn leaf colour.

Clethra acuminata Leaf (28/08/2014, Rue de la Pointe Park, Brest, France)

Clethra acuminata Leaf (28/08/2014, Rue de la Pointe Park, Brest, France)

Ecologically, Clethra acuminata flowers are attractive to polinating insects. Its seeds are also attractive to some birds.

Clethra acuminata prefers moist, humus rich, well-drained soils. It prefers a neutral to acid pH of soil.

Clethra acuminata requires little maintenance. Suckers may be removed as necessary.

Davis Landscape Architecture

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