A deciduous shrub found 10 to 15 ft high in a wild state; young shoots finely downy. Leaves lanceolate to oval-lanceolate, tapered to a long slender point, the base wedge-shaped or rounded; margins toothed; 21⁄2 to 5 in. long, 1 to 13⁄4 in. wide; dark bright green and furnished at first with small, starry hairs above, finally glabrous; paler and more or less downy beneath, especially in the vein-axils; stalk 1⁄4 to 3⁄4 in. long, downy. Flowers fragrant, pure white, in a terminal cluster of slender racemes 6 to 10 in. long; both main and secondary flower-stalks very downy. The flowers are densely arranged on the raceme, each blossom about 1⁄4 in. wide; calyx-lobes woolly, lanceolate with slender points, 1⁄8 in. long; stamens slightly downy towards the base; style glabrous.
Native of E. Szechwan and W. Hupeh, China, at from 4,000 to 7,800 ft; described in 1895 by Franchet, and five years later was found by Wilson when collecting for Messrs Veitch. It first flowered at Kew in July 1921, but gives one the impression that it would be better suited farther south. It is undoubtedly a beautiful clethra, and one specimen of Wilson’s collecting has its terminal group of racemes forming an inflorescence close upon a foot long and 8 to 10 in. wide. It is related to C. barbinervis but that species has leaves broadest towards the apex, more densely and more persistently downy beneath; and its calyx-lobes are not slenderly pointed but rounded.