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CALYCANTHUS floridus

Image of Calycanthus floridus

Felder Rushing

Family

Calycanthaceae

Botanical Name

CALYCANTHUS floridus

Plant Common Name

Sweetshrub

General Description

Fragrant with scents of fruit and spice, the unusual flowers of Carolina allspice make this shrub an unusual specimen for the garden. A rounded and spreading deciduous shrub, it is native to the extreme southeastern United States, from Virginia to Florida.

Its leaves are oval with a gracefully and elegantly pointed tip, and satiny-green to dark-green with a lighter gray-green underside. As the leaves begin to emerge in spring, the flowers appear on short stems. They open a rich, deep brownish-red or maroon, and look like a stumpy, octopus. Wonderfully fragrant, they release a scent like a a warm, sweet fruit salad. Because there is much variation in the plants that arise from seeds, some flowers can smell more soured and less fruity, others definitely like strawberries. Select a specimen in bloom at the nursery to ensure an appealing fragrance. Pollinated flowers become pear-shaped brown capsules that are also fragrant if broken. In autumn, the leaves turn yellow.

Plant Carolina allspice in any humusy well-drained soil and partial sun or partial shade. It tolerates deeper shade and drier soils, but will not grow as robustly or flower as heavily as a gardener would hope. It is lovely as part of a mixed shrub border or foundation planting, and should be located near a patio or walkway so the fragrance can be noted. Any pruning should be done immediately after flowers fade. There are selection of the species, among them ‘Athens,’ with green-yellow blossoms, ‘Edith Wilder,’ with a perfect fragrance from its maroon flowers, and ‘Michael Lindsey, ’ a smaller, compact plant.

Characteristics

  • AHS Heat Zone

    9 - 1

  • USDA Hardiness Zone

    5 - 9

  • Sunset Zone

    3a, 3b, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15, 16, 17

  • Plant Type

    Shrub

  • Sun Exposure

    Partial Sun, Partial Shade

  • Height

    6'-10' / 1.8m - 3.0m

  • Width

    6'-12' / 1.8m - 3.7m

  • Bloom Time

    Early Summer, Summer

  • Native To

    United States, Southeastern United States

Growing Conditions

  • Soil pH

    Acidic, Neutral

  • Soil Drainage

    Average

  • Soil type

    Clay, Loam

  • Growth Rate

    Fast

  • Water Requirements

    Average Water

  • Habit

    Spreading

  • Seasonal Interest

    Spring, Summer, Fall

Ornamental Features

  • Flower Interest

    Showy

  • Flower Color

    Dark Red, Brown, Sienna

  • Fruit Color

    Brown

  • Foliage Color (Spring)

    Green, Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Summer)

    Dark Green

  • Foliage Color (Fall)

    Yellow, Yellow Green

  • Bark Color

    Brown, Chocolate

  • Fragrant Flowers

    Yes

  • Fragrant Fruit

    Yes

  • Fragrant Foliage

    No

  • Bark or Stem Fragrant

    No

  • Flower Petal Number

    Semi-Double

  • Repeat Bloomer

    No

  • Showy Fruit

    No

  • Edible Fruit

    No

  • Showy Foliage

    Yes

  • Foliage Texture

    Medium

  • Foliage Sheen

    Glossy

  • Evergreen

    No

  • Showy Bark

    No

Special Characteristics

  • Bark Texture

    Smooth

  • Usage

    Feature Plant, Foundation, Mixed Border, Screening / Wind Break

  • Sharp or Has Thorns

    No

  • Invasive

    No

  • Self-Sowing

    Yes