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Sweetbells, Fetterbush, Leucothoe, Sweet-bells Leucothoe, White-osier, Pepper-bush
Leucothoe racemosa (L. elongata)


Sweetbells is native to the sandy, acid soils of Southeast Texas, growing in swamps or water edges and other moist areas. Its range extends east to Florida and north to Massachusetts, in climates with mild winters and hot, humid summers. In its native habitat it usually grows in somewhat shaded areas, never in deep shade, but it will grow in sun with adequate moisture. From April through June sweetbells has racemes of delicate bell- or urn-shaped white flowers, arranged in a single row. It is a medium-sized deciduous shrub that forms colonies in the wild, making it useful for erosion control around waterways. In mass plantings, as a hedge, or as a speciman plant, it is striking for two or three months while the plants are in flower. The leaves are short, thin, bright green, and often turn red in the fall. Flowering occurs on the past season's growth, so sweetbells should be pruned only immediately after the flowers have fallen. The leaves are reportedly poisonous to livestock.

Plant Habit or Use: small shrub
medium shrub

Exposure: sun
partial sun

Flower Color: white

Blooming Period: spring

Fruit Characteristics: five-part capsule

Height: 3 to 13 feet

Width: 3 to 13 feet

Plant Character: deciduous

Heat Tolerance: high

Water Requirements:

Soil Requirements: acid

USDA Hardiness Zone: 5

Additional Comments:

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