While the flowers look beautiful, the spicy, sweet scent of Clethra is its real draw for humans and a massive profusion of pollinating insects. Sweet pepper-bush is a widespread coastal and freshwater wetland plant, but it tolerates drought well once established, and its profusion of late summer blooms becomes a point of anticipation. Before the proliferation of lighthouses, many sailors knew this plant as "sailors' delight:" when the winds were right, they could often smell Clethra in bloom before they saw land. 'Hummingbird' is a slightly shorter cultivar that spreads wider than it is tall.
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