Plant DetailShow Menu

Calycanthus floridus is often confused with:
Calycanthus 'Venus' Flower
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Oxydendrum arboreum Oxydendrum arboreum leaves in the fall in Moore County
Itea virginica Itea virginica
Tilia americana Tilia americana

Calycanthus floridus

Phonetic Spelling
kal-ee-KAN-thus FLOR-id-us
This plant has low severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Carolina allspice, is an erect to rounded deciduous native shrub in the Calycanthaceae family.  It is found in the south east growing in shady woodlands and along streambanks.  It grows 6-12' tall with an equal or slightly greater spread.  It is commonly called sweetshrub and strawberry bush in reference to the showy fragrant blooms which have been described as combining hints of pineapple, strawberry, and banana. The aroma is stronger in higher temperatures and it is best to purchase the plant in flower as the fragrances do vary so widely.  The scientific name derives from the Greek words kaylx which means calyx and anthos which means flowers.  

Sweetshrub grows best in average to rich, well-drained soil in anywhere from full sun to deep shade. It prefers some shade in hot summer afternoons and it will grow lankier and less dense in shade than in sun. It is tolerant of a wide range of soil textures and pH but prefers rich loams.  Plant it 3 to 5 feet from other shrubs to give it adequate room to grow.  It blooms in early spring before leaves emerge, with the leaves, and sporadically thereafter.  

Prune immediately after flowering to shape or maintain compactness.  It has a suckering habit meaning those suckering branches need to be maintained unless you want this plant to naturalize in your landscape.  Prune the plant to shape immediately after flowering as the flowers are produced on last year's wood.  Propagate this plant by seed.

It can tolerate brief periods of flooding, but it struggles in sandy soil and drought conditions.  It withstands cold and heat, insect and disease pests, fire, and deer browsing. Plant it as a specimen or near a patio or walkway to enjoy its fragrance.  Its form makes for a good screen or privacy hedge or plant it in the back of a shrub border or in a foundation planting.  Consider this native in your cutting, sensory, or woodland garden.

Fire Risk: This plant has a low flammability rating.

Quick ID Hints:

  • Solitary maroon flowers on short axillary shoots
  • Bark of deciduous shrub is aromatic when bruised
  • Flowers are fruit-scented
  • Leaves are opposite, grey-green & pubescent underneath

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  Relatively pest and disease free. 

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Sloped Front Yard
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Aphrodite'
    Bright red flowers 4'-6' tall
  • 'Athens'
    White flowers, dense mound 6' tall
  • 'Edith Wilder'
  • 'Katherine'
  • 'Michael Lindsey'
    Shiny leaves, very fragrant
'Aphrodite', 'Athens', 'Edith Wilder' , 'Katherine' , 'Michael Lindsey'
Tags:
#fragrant#showy flowers#deciduous#fragrant flowers#specimen#wildlife plants#fragrant leaves#edible flowers#native shrub#playground#hedges#cpp#low flammability#NC native#pest resistant#children's garden#foundation planting#fire resistant#cold tolerant#cutting garden#screening#pollinator plant#food source summer#sensory garden#border back#food source nectar#food source pollen#patio planting#food source hard mast fruit#butterfly friendly#FACU Piedmont Mountains#Coastal FACU#shade flowers#audubon#shrub borders#woodland garden
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Aphrodite'
    Bright red flowers 4'-6' tall
  • 'Athens'
    White flowers, dense mound 6' tall
  • 'Edith Wilder'
  • 'Katherine'
  • 'Michael Lindsey'
    Shiny leaves, very fragrant
'Aphrodite', 'Athens', 'Edith Wilder' , 'Katherine' , 'Michael Lindsey'
Tags:
#fragrant#showy flowers#deciduous#fragrant flowers#specimen#wildlife plants#fragrant leaves#edible flowers#native shrub#playground#hedges#cpp#low flammability#NC native#pest resistant#children's garden#foundation planting#fire resistant#cold tolerant#cutting garden#screening#pollinator plant#food source summer#sensory garden#border back#food source nectar#food source pollen#patio planting#food source hard mast fruit#butterfly friendly#FACU Piedmont Mountains#Coastal FACU#shade flowers#audubon#shrub borders#woodland garden
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Calycanthus
    Species:
    floridus
    Family:
    Calycanthaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Recommended Propagation Strategy:
    Seed
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Pennsylvania to SE. U.S.A
    Distribution:
    AL , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IL , KY , LA , MA , MD , MS , NC , NY , OH , PA , SC , TN , VA , WV
    Fire Risk Rating:
    low flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    Butterflies nectar at the blooms. Other insects also feed at the flowers, especially beetles.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Fragrance
    Wildlife Food Source
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    Deer resistant, resistant to fire in landscape.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 6 ft. 0 in. - 12 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 6 ft. 0 in. - 12 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Poisonous
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Dense
    Erect
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day)
    Deep shade (Less than 2 hours to no direct sunlight)
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    Clay
    High Organic Matter
    Loam (Silt)
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Alkaline (>8.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Moist
    Occasional Flooding
    Occasionally Dry
    Available Space To Plant:
    6-feet-12 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    4a, 4b, 5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Green
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Long-lasting
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Achene
    Capsule
    Fruit Length:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Width:
    < 1 inch
    Fruit Description:
    An urceolate (shaped like an urn) capsule, wrinkly and leathery, enclosing multiple 1-seeded achenes. Displays from August to September and starts out soft green fading to brown.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Red/Burgundy
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Solitary
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Good Cut
    Good Dried
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Shape:
    Saucer
    Flower Petals:
    7 - 20 petals/rays
    Colored Sepals
    Tepals
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    Very fragrant 2 inches wide brown to deep red flowers that bloom at the ends of short branchlets. The sepals and petals are similar and are referred to as tepals. They are strap-like. Blooms appear from mid-April to mid-May and then occasional flowers into July. The fragrance varies.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Leathery
    Rough
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Long-lasting
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Insignificant
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Oblong
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    Yes
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Lustrous, dark green to gray-green leaves that turn a rather insignificant golden yellow in fall. Undersides are paler with dense hairs. The leaves are opposite, simple, rough to the touch and aromatic when bruised. The shape is oval or oblong, the tip is acute or acuminate or (rarely) obtuse, and bases are cuneate.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Brown
    Surface/Attachment:
    Lenticels
    Bark Description:
    Thin, lenticeled, and fragrant.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gray/Silver
    Red/Burgundy
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    Yes
    Stem Lenticels:
    Conspicuous
    Pith (Split Longitudinally):
    Continuous homogeneous
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    Stout, gray-brown, glabrous, aromatic when bruised; pith large, white, somewhat hexagonal, continuous. New stems are red-brown,
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Naturalized Area
    Patio
    Recreational Play Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Children's Garden
    Cottage Garden
    Cutting Garden
    Garden for the Blind
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Foundation Planting
    Hedge
    Screen/Privacy
    Specimen
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Predatory Insects
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Deer
    Diseases
    Fire
    Heat
    Insect Pests
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    Low
    Poison Symptoms:
    Convulsions, elevated blood pressure
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Calycanthin and related alkaloids
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Seeds