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Calycanthus floridus is often confused with:
Calycanthus 'Venus' Flower
Plants that fill a similar niche:
Itea virginica Itea virginica
Tilia americana Tilia americana
Acer rubrum Acer rubrum

Spicebush Calycanthus floridus

Other plants called Spicebush:

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

Calycanthus floridus, commonly called Carolina allspice, is a dense, rounded deciduous native shrub with a suckering habit which grows 6-12' tall with an equal or slightly greater spread. It blooms in early spring before leaves emerge, with the leaves, and sporadically thereafter.

Sweetshrub grows best in average, medium, well-drained soil in anywhere from full sun to deep shade. It prefers some shade in hot summer afternoons and it will grow somewhat taller in shade than in sun. It is tolerant of a wide range of soil textures and pH but prefers rich loams. It can tolerate brief periods of flooding, but it struggles in sandy soil and drought conditions.  It's even tolerant to cold and heat, insect and disease pests, fire, and deer. Prune immediately after flowering to shape or maintain compactness. It tends to sucker and often forms colonies in the wild. Remove root suckers promptly if naturalization is not desired.

It is best to purchase this plant when in flower because the quality and intensity of the fragrance can vary widely from plant to plant. Also commonly called sweetshrub and strawberry bush in reference to the fragrant blooms which have been described as combining hints of pineapple, strawberry and banana. The aroma is stronger in higher temperatures. Further common name of hairy allspice is in reference to the hairy twigs and leaf undersides of this plant. 

TOXIC ONLY IF LARGE QUANTITIES EATEN.

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

 

Tolerant cold, heat; soil adaptable; pH adaptable; tolerates full sun or shade; intolerant drought; relatively pest/disease free

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscape:
Sloped Front Yard
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Athens'
  • 'Edith Wilder'
  • 'Katherine'
'Athens', 'Edith Wilder' , 'Katherine'
Tags:
#fragrant#deciduous#drought tolerant#wildlife plant#edible flowers#native shrub#playground#cpp#low flammability#NC native#insect pest tolerant#children's garden#fire resistant#pollinator plant#food source summer#food source nectar#food source pollen#food source hard-mast fruit#butterfly friendly#FACU Piedmont Mountains#FACU Coastal#audubon
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Athens'
  • 'Edith Wilder'
  • 'Katherine'
'Athens', 'Edith Wilder' , 'Katherine'
Tags:
#fragrant#deciduous#drought tolerant#wildlife plant#edible flowers#native shrub#playground#cpp#low flammability#NC native#insect pest tolerant#children's garden#fire resistant#pollinator plant#food source summer#food source nectar#food source pollen#food source hard-mast fruit#butterfly friendly#FACU Piedmont Mountains#FACU Coastal#audubon
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Calycanthus
    Species:
    floridus
    Family:
    Calycanthaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Pennsylvania to SE. U.S.A
    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
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Medium
    Maintenance:
    Medium
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    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
    Red/Burgundy
    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:
    Brownish, urn-shaped fruits (seed capsules) which mature in late summer and fall. An urceolate capsule, brown and leathery, enclosing multiple 1-seeded achenes. Displays from August to September
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gold/Yellow
    Red/Burgundy
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Solitary
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Petals:
    7 - 20 petals/rays
    Colored Sepals
    Flower Size:
    1-3 inches
    Flower Description:
    Very fragrant, brown to reddish-brown flowers (2" across) which bloom at the ends of short branchlets. Solitary on short axillary lateral shoots, maroon, aromatic; sepals and petals similar, spreading. Blooms from April to May. Fragrance is only present the first day the flower opens.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Gray/Silver
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Rough
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Long-lasting
    Showy
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Leaf Shape:
    Oblong
    Ovate
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Lustrous, dark green (pale beneath), turn golden yellow in fall; leaves are opposite, simple, rough to the touch and aromatic when bruised. Opposite, simple, oval or oblong, acute or acuminate or (rarely) obtuse, cuneate, gray-green, densely pubescent below.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Brown
    Surface/Attachment:
    Lenticels
    Bark Description:
    Thin, lenticeled, and fragrant.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Gray/Silver
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    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.
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Recreational Play Area
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Children's Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    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