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CLETHRA arborea

Image of Clethra arborea

Pao Delal

Family

Clethraceae

Botanical Name

CLETHRA arborea

Plant Common Name

Lily-of-the-valley Tree, Madeira Laurel

Special Notice

This entry has yet to be reviewed and approved by L2G editors.

General Description

Lily-of-the-valley tree's lustrous deep green leaves are the perfect backdrop for the late summertime white blossoms that mimic those of the common perennial lily-of-the-valley (Convallaria). Native to the highland center of the Madeira Islands off of the northwest coast of Africa, this broadleaf evergreen small tree grows best in mild climates with nearly frost-free winters and many regard this as the finest of all Clethra species. It's also called the Madeira laurel.

Ranging in color from lush emerald green to dark green, the glossy oval leaves emerge with a reddish bronze cast in spring. In mid- to late summer, branch tips produce stalked flower stems (racemes) with white, cup-shaped blossoms that are fragrant. Sometimes these blooms occur more towards the autumn. The youngest branches are also blushed red.

Grow lily-of-the-valley tree in a fertile, moist and well-draining soil that is not alkaline in pH. It tolerates nearly full sun in areas with cool, comfortable summers, otherwise partial shade is highly recommended. It also suffers foliage burn with subfreezing temperatures coupled with wind. Frost-killed leaves drop away and will be replaced in spring. Use it as an upright specimen in a mixed border or in a container protected from drying breezes. In regions where the climate is too hot or cold, it is usually grown as a cool greenhouse plant. A double-flowering selection, 'Flore Plena', has white flowers tinged faintly in pink.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    9 - 8

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    9 - 10

  • Sunset Zone

    H1, 15, 16, 17, 21, 22, 23, 24

  • Plant Type

    Broadleaf Evergreen

  • Sun Exposure

    Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    20'-25' / 6.1m - 7.6m

  • Width

    12'-18' / 3.7m - 5.5m

  • Bloom Time

    Summer, Late Summer, Early Fall, Fall

  • Native To

    Northern Africa

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Well Drained

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam

  • Growth Rate

    Medium

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Upright/Erect

  • Seasonal Interest

    Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    White

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Red, Green, Bronze

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Winter)

    Dark Green

  • Bark Color

    Brown, Sandy Brown

  • 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

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    Yes

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Container, Feature Plant, Foundation, Mixed Border

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    No