Deciduous shrub. Young shoots with star-shaped down. Leaves to 12 cm long, lanceolate to elliptic-oblanceolate, downy below. Flowers with petals 8-10 mm long. Sepals oval, slightly pointed.
Sepals becoming red, leaves downy below.
Other deciduous species are occasionally cultivated.
C. alnifolia L., Sweet Pepper-bush from N America has young shoots with a dense, close star-shaped down and leaves with fewer than 10 vein pairs.
C. barbinervis Siebold & Zucc. from Japan, China and Taiwan has leaves with 10-15 vein pairs, and petals 4-6 mm long.
C. fargesii Franch. from C China has leaves with mostly more rounded leaves and more than 15 vein pairs.
Source: (1997). Clethraceae. In: . Horticultural Flora of South-eastern Australia. Volume 2. Flowering plants. Dicotyledons. Part 1. The identification of garden and cultivated plants. University of New South Wales Press.