Calycanthus is a fine sweet shrub that also goes by the name of Carolina allspice. Mark Catesby first described it in 1726 when he saw it growing in the hilly areas of Carolina. It is also native to the lower Midwest and eastern US from New York to Florida.
It has stiff looking maroon-colored blooms, May through July, that are not eye catching to us, but their aroma attracts pollinating beetles. Other parts of the plant are scented like cinnamon. The name Calycanthus is because the petals and sepals have the same color, and Calycanthus means “calyx flower.”
This shrub can grow 4-7 feet wide and likes sun and moist soil but will grow in part shade. It should be pruned after it blooms, but if you do prune it, you won’t get any of the interesting seed pods, so you may want to prune it in alternate years.
Plants vary in terms of fragrance, so try to buy one in bloom so you can sample the scent before purchase. It is hardy zones 4-9 and is ideal for the edges of woodlands and in naturalistic plantings. It grows 4-10 feet tall but is shorter in full sun. The glossy green leaves turn bronze in the fall and few pests ever trouble this easy-growing native.
This is Moya Andrews, and today we focused on Calycanthus floridus.