This section is from the book "An Illustrated Flora Of The Northern United States, Canada And The British Possessions Vol2", by Nathaniel Lord Britton, Addison Brown. Also available from Amazon: An Illustrated Flora of the Northern United States, Canada and the British Possessions. 3 Volume Set..
Shrubs or trees, more or less stellate-canescent, with alternate deciduous serrate or serrulate petioled leaves, in our species, and rather small white fragrant flowers in terminal, solitary or clustered, narrow usually elongated racemes. Calyx 5-cleft or 5-parted, persistent, the segments imbricated. Petals 5, slightly united at the base, obovate, oblong, or obcordate, imbricated, deciduous. Stamens 10; filaments slender; anthers sagittate, inverted in anthesis, the sacs opening by large apical pores; pollen-grains simple. Disk obsolete. Ovary 3-angled or 3-lobed, 3-celled, pubescent; ovules numerous; style slender; stigmas 3 in our species. Capsule subglobose, or 3-lobed, 3-celled, loculicidally 3-valved, the valves at length 2-cleft. Seeds very small, with a loose cellular coat.
1. CLČTHRA L. Sp. Pl. 396. 1753. Characters of the family. [Greek, alder, from the resemblance of the foliage.]
The family consists only of the following genus, comprising about 30 species, natives of eastern North America, Japan, Mexico, the West Indies and South America. Besides the following, another occurs in the Southern States. Several inhabit the mountains of the West Indies. Type species: Clethra alnifolia L.
Leaves obovate, acute or obtusish; filaments glabrous.
Leaves oval or ovate, acuminate; filaments hirsute.
Clethra alnifolia L. Sp. Pl. 396. 1753.
A shrub, 3°-10° high, the twigs minutely canescent. Leaves obovate, obtuse or acute at the apex, narrowed or cuneate at the base, sharply serrate, at least beyond the middle, glabrous or very nearly so and green on both sides, l'-3' long; petioles 1"-6" long; racemes erect; bracts short, deciduous; pedicels, calyx and capsule canescent; calyx-lobes oblong, obtuse, nerved; flowers about 4" broad, of spicy fragrance; filaments glabrous; style longer than the stamens; capsule subglobose, about 1 1/2" in diameter, about the length of the calyx.
C. acuminata Michx. Fl. Bor. Am. 1: 260. 1803.
A tall shrub or small tree, similar to the preceding species. Leaves oval, oblong, or ovate, acuminate at the apex, narrowed or rounded at the base, green above, pale and sometimes pubescent beneath, closely serrulate with very sharp-pointed teeth, 2'-7' long, sometimes 3 1/2' wide; petioles 4"-12" long; racemes spreading or recurved, solitary, or 2-3 together, 2'-%' long, the rachis, pedicels and calyx densely pubescent or canescent; bracts longer than the flowers, caducous; filaments and bases of the petals hirsute; capsules pubescent.
In mountain woods, Virginia and West Virginia to Georgia. Ascends to 4500 ft. in North Carolina. July-Aug.