Calycanthus floridus (Carolina Allspice or Common Sweet Shrub)

Calycanthus floridus

Carolina Allspice or Common Sweet Shrub



The generic name is derived from the Greek words kalix, meaning calyx, and anthos, meaning flower. The genus contains only four species native to North America. They are mostly medium high, deciduous shrubs with flowers borne singly on short side shoots. The only one of any significance for garden decoration is Calycanthus floridus, introduced into Europe in 1726, first of all into Britain. It grows to a height of about 3 m (10 ft). The leaves are ovate to broadly oval, 5 to 12 cm (2 to 5 in) long, pointed at the tip, greyish-green and hairy beneath, bright green above. Noteworthy are the dark, reddish-brown flowers which measure up to 5 cm (2 in) in diameter, and are very fragrant. They appear in June and July. The bark and wood also have a spicy fragrance.

Calycanthus floridus is easily propagated by seed. The seeds, which ripen in October to November, should be stored for the winter at a temperature of 6 to 10° C (45 to 50° F) and then sown the following spring. It requires fairly deep soil which, however, must not be compacted and should be neither waterlogged nor with a tendency to dry out. It does best in a sunny situation and makes a striking solitary specimen grown in grass, beside pathways and patios.

Of the other species worthy of note C. occidentalis is somewhat taller but more finicky as to location; it is sometimes destroyed by frost in winter. Dry branches should be removed in the autumn.

30. April 2011 by Dave Pinkney
Categories: Ornamental Shrubs, Plants & Trees | Tags: , , | Comments Off on Calycanthus floridus (Carolina Allspice or Common Sweet Shrub)


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