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Clethra arborea1.jpg
Clethra arborea flowers
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Plantae
(unranked): Angiosperms
(unranked): Eudicots
(unranked): Asterids
Order: Ericales
Family: Clethraceae
Genus: Clethra
Type species
Clethra alnifolia

See text

Clethra alnifolia 'Ruby spice'

Clethra is a genus of flowering shrubs or small trees described as a genus by Linnaeus in 1753.[1][6]

Clethra is one of two genera in the family Clethraceae (the other being Purdiaea). The species may be evergreen or deciduous, and all bear flowers in clusters (inflorescences).


Clethra species are native to a variety of habitats, including swamps, woodland, and rocky sites[7] from temperate to tropical climates in eastern and southeastern Asia, Malesia, North and South America, and one species (C. arborea) on the island of Madeira.[5]


The number of species accepted varies between different authorities depending on taxonomic interpretation, but with a recent trend to reduce the number recognised as distinct. The recent Flora of China[8] has cut the number accepted for China from 35 to 7 species, and the US Department of Agriculture[9] recognises only two in the United States, synonymising C. tomentosa with C. alnifolia. The following are accepted by the World Checklist of Selected Plant Families:[5]


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