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Deciduous eastern North American shrub
Description: Upright racemes of delicately fragrant, white flowers in mid-summer when few other woody plants are in bloom; a favorite of bees
Habit: Grows 3 to 8 feet high and 4 to 6 feet wide, forming a dense, rounded bush
Culture: Prefers moist, acid soil supplemented with organic matter; grows well in shade but can tolerate full sun if given plenty of water
Hardiness: USDA Zones 3 through 9
Origin: North America
Attributes: Fall color, showy fruit, rain garden, attracts bees and butterflies
This choice native shrub was in cultivation in America and Europe by the 1730s. Many native American plants and seeds were sent to Peter Collinson in England by naturalist John Bartram, Sr. during the mid-eighteenth century, including Mountain Laurel, Sweetpepper Bush, and Carolina Allspice. In 1786, Thomas Jefferson included Clethra in a list of plants to be sent to him in Paris by John Bartram, Jr. for the purpose of introducing American native plants into the gardens of France. Jefferson considered it a good plant for shrubberies and was planting Sweetpepper Bush at Monticello as early as 1771.