146 Calycanthus floridusCommon Names: sweetshrub, Carolina allspice, strawberry shrub, pineapple shrub Family: Calycanthaceae (calycanthus Family)
This beautiful deciduous shrub grows slowly to form neat mounds up to 8 ft (2.4 m) high. As the sweetshrub suckers vigorously the mounds increase in width to eventually form a thicket if not constrained. Sweetshrub has many common names, all alluding to the aromatic properties of its leaves, bark, twigs and roots. Best of all is the wonderfully fruity scent produced by the unusual flowers. Rusty red to brown, the 1-2 inch blossoms appear in quantities during the spring and intermittently thereafter throughout the summer. The leaves are oblong, 4 in (10.2 cm) long by 2 in (5.1 cm) wide, and are arranged oppositely along the length of the stems. They are rich deep green with lighter green underneath. Soft and fuzzy to the touch, they turn bright golden yellow in autumn.
Calycanthus floridus is native to the moist woodlands of the southeastern United States. Its range extends from Virginia, south to Florida, and west to Mississippi. Sweetshrub is enjoyed as a landscape plant in Europe and deserves more attention from U.S. gardeners.
CultureSweetshrub is easy to grow in average soil, is easy to care for and is essentially pest-free! Light: Thrives in medium shade to bright sun. Moisture: Likes moist soils. Water when dry. This shrub can survive periods of drought if necessary. Hardiness: USDA Zones 5 - 9. Propagation: Propagate by seeds, layers, and divisions. This shrub produces suckers in profusion. These can be easily dug and planted in a new location - at just about any time of the year provided the transplants are kept moist.
Use sweetshrub in natural areas and woodland gardens where it can sucker freely and assume its natural habit. Sweetshrub is also nice in planters near entryways and patios where it's delicate fragrance can be enjoyed.
This plant is easy to grow, pest free, inexpensive, and easy to propagate. The delightful fragrance of its flowers turns this nice little shrub into a real winner. Dry the flowers, leaves, twigs and bark to use in potpourri.
Try to purchase sweetshrub when it is in bloom to find one with fragrance. There is variation is the amount and nature of the perfume among individuals. The flowers also seem to become more fragrant as they age.
Jack Scheper 11/15/98; updated 4/29/04