Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Mountain Sweet-pepperbush - Clethra acuminata   Michaux
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Section 6 » Order Ericales » Family Clethraceae
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DistributionThroughout the Mountains, and into the Piedmont foothills only. Ranges east only to Surry, Catawba, and Cleveland counties.

This is a southern Appalachian endemic, ranging north barely to southwestern PA, and south to northeastern GA.
AbundanceFrequent to common in the Mountains, at a wide elevation range; rare to uncommon in the foothills, mainly at the higher elevations.
HabitatThis species favors cool, often high elevation forests and forest edges, including heath balds and margins of outcrops. It does occur much lower in elevation, but typically in cool microclimates along forested slopes or shaded stream banks.
PhenologyBlooms in July and August, and fruits in September and October.
IdentificationThis is a medium-sized to large deciduous shrub, growing to an average height of 10-12 feet high. It has alternate leaves, but some leaves tend to be clustered toward the tips of branches. They are rather large, typically 5 inches long, with a strongly serrate/toothed margin and a long acuminate tip. The leaves are strongly veined, with many pairs of veins coming off the mid-vein and curving sharply toward the margins, in a distinctive manner once learned. If not able to identify the species by the leaf characters, the long (averaging 6 inches) and showy racemes of white flowers are very conspicuous in early to mid-summer.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)Mountain Pepperbush, Mountain White-alder, Cinnamonbark
State RankS4
Global RankG4
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US Status
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B.A. SorrieMid slope, Table Rock. 1 July 2020. BurkePhoto_natural
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