Coastal sweet-pepper or summersweet is a deciduous (leaf shedding) shrub, which often spreads into mounded clumps. It is a tall (6-12 feet), many-branched, a leafy shrub with spike-like, upright clusters of fragrant white flowers. These flowers tend to appear around late summer and early autumn. The leaves turn dull yellow to orange in fall.
This shrub forms sizable patches and is remarkably free of any disease, insect, or physiological problems. Its dry fruiting capsules remain long after flowering and help identify this plant in winter.
Clethra grows in humus-rich, moist, well-drained, lime-free soil in shade. It can also grow in the shelter of an open woodland garden or a lightly-shaded shrub border.