Sweet Pepperbush

Clethra alnifolia

Sweet pepperbush is a tall, aggressive native shrub that inhabits acidic moist woods and pond shores and usually forms extensive colonies. Its white flowers appear in late July and keep wafting their pungent, spicy-sweet aroma over Little Herring and Triangle Ponds and Alper Preserve till the end of August. The flowers are visited by a variety of bees—for pollen and butter and flies—for nectar. The name "pepperbush" refers to the vague resemblance of the fruits to peppercorns. Fruits, three-valved capsules containing numerous small seeds, are long-lasting, still remaining on branches at the time when the new generation of flowers and even new fruits appear. Persistent fruits provide us a reliable hint about the identity of this shrub all year round. Sweet pepperbush is by far the most common shrub of moist habitats in eastern Massachusetts, yet, interestingly, its range does not include western MA, so it is completely absent there. Cultivars (horticultural varieties) of this shrub available at nurseries are more compact than the straight species.

See all photos for this species at salicicola.com

August 19

August 16

March 10