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CLETHRA acuminata

Image of Clethra acuminata

Jessie Keith

Family

Clethraceae

Botanical Name

CLETHRA acuminata

Plant Common Name

Cinnamon Clethra, Pointed-leaved White Alder

General Description

Named for its colorful bark, cinnamon clethra is also noteworthy for its yellow fall color and white summer flowers. Native to moist habitats in the central and southern Appalachian Mountains, it develops into a medium to tall shrub in the northernmost part of its range, and a small tree in the South. Plants will sucker and if untended can form thickets over time.

The large, medium to dark green, oval leaves of cinnamon clethra have serrated edges, pointed tips and deep pleated veins. The leaves turn yellow-green to gold before dropping in fall. Spires of small, white, bell-shaped flowers appear at the stem tips in early or midsummer, attracting bees and butterflies. Cinnamon clethra's stems have gray outer bark that flakes off to expose mottled gold to chocolate-brown or lustrous cinnamon-tan under layers.

Cinnamon clethra thrives in sun to partial shade and moist, acid, humus-rich soil. Use it in a mixed shrub border or naturalistic planting. It is particularly lovely when pruned into tree form to showcase its bark.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    8 - 3

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    5 - 8

  • Sunset Zone

    6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17

  • Plant Type

    Shrub

  • Sun Exposure

    Full Sun, Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    8'-20' / 2.4m - 6.1m

  • Width

    10'-15' / 3.0m - 4.6m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Summer, Summer

  • Native To

    United States, Mid-Atlantic United States, Southeastern United States

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Loam

  • Growth Rate

    Slow

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Oval/Rounded

  • Seasonal Interest

    Summer, Fall, Winter

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White

  • Fruit Color

    Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Yellow, Yellow Green, Gold

  • Bark Color

    Tan, Sienna, Chocolate, Gray

  • Bark Color Modifier

    Spotted/Mottled

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    No

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Single

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    No

  • Foliage Texture

    Coarse

  • Foliage Sheen

    Matte

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    Yes

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Exfoliating

  • Usage

    Foundation, Mixed Border

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Attracts

    Butterflies

  • Self-Sowing

    No