This work investigates the reflection and scattering from vertically aligned carbon nanotubes, fabricated on silicon substrate using thermally enhanced chemical vapor deposition with both tip-growth and base-growth mechanisms. The directional-hemispherical reflectance in the visible and near-infrared wavelengths was measured with an integrating sphere. The polarization-dependent bidirectional reflectance distribution function was characterized with a laser scatterometer at the wavelength of 635nm. The effective medium theory was used to elucidate the mechanism of high absorptance (greater than 0.97 in the spectral region from 400 to 1800nm) of the multi-walled carbon nanotube samples. It is observed that scattering by impurities on the top of the nanotubes, by the nanotube tips, and by defects and misalignment can significantly increase the reflectance and introduce retroreflection. This study may facilitate application of carbon nanotubes in pyroelectric detectors as well as thermophotovoltaic emitters and absorbers.