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Summersweet Clethra alnifolia is a native shrub which grows from Maine to Florida and west to Texas. Summersweet is also called Anne Bidwell and Sweet Pepperbush. It is unique in its ability to bloom heavily in shade and grows best along streams and in other wet places.

Summersweet in bloom
Summersweet in bloom
Summersweet in fall
Summersweet in fall

Summersweet is very good in naturalized settingsand will spread by root suckers. It is late to leaf out, thus missing late spring frosts. The fragrant flower spikes are up to a foot long and last for several weeks. The flowers are an excellent nectar source for bees, butterflies and other pollinators.

Several varieties have been selected and named for their distinctive characteristics. Summersweets range from 3′ to 6′ in height and flower colors vary from white to pink. Snipping out the spent flowers will neaten the appearance of these medium green shrubs and help to show off the golden glow they create in autumn. They will not do well on a dry site, but for shady ,damp sites they can’t be beat.