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Calycanthus floridus L.

Carolina Allspice

Modern name

Calycanthus floridus L.


C. sterilis Walt.

A deciduous shrub of rather straggling growth, ultimately 6 to 8 ft. or even more high. Leaves 3 to 5 in. long, oval, tapered at the base, rough to the touch and dark green above; soft, with a dense covering of short, pale down beneath. Flowers 2 in. or less in diameter, fragrant, produced June and July; sepals and petals strap-shaped, numerous, reddish purple, tinged with brown. Bot. Mag., t. 503.

Native of the south-east United States, from Virginia southwards; first introduced to England by Mark Catesby, the author of the Natural History of Carolina, in 1726. According to old records the original plants were collected ‘back of Charlestown’, in S. Carolina. It is easily distinguished from the other species by the densely pubescent under-surface of the leaves. The leaves, wood, and roots have a pleasant, camphor-like fragrance, which is even more developed in the dried wood. The bark has been used as a substitute for cinnamon. Summer leaf-buds concealed.

C. mohrii (Small) Pollard Butneria mohrii Small – This is a close ally of the above, but has ovate rather than oval leaves, rounded or somewhat heart-shaped at the base. Native of S. Tennessee and N. Alabama; distinguished under this name by Small and introduced in 1908. The C. ovatus of Aiton, in cultivation at Kew in 1789, may have belonged here or have been a form of C. floridus.

Calycanthus floridus

Calycanthus floridus



Other species in the genus