Calycanthus floridus

Common Sweetshrub, Carolina Allspice




  • coastal plain of the southeastern United States
  • zone 5

Habit and Form

  • a deciduous shrub
  • 4' to 7' tall
  • typically broader than tall
  • upright spreading to irregular branching
  • in full sun it is dense and rounded
  • in shade it is more loose, open and irregular

Summer Foliage

  • opposite leaf arrangement
  • 2" to 5" long
  • ovate to elliptical with acute tip
  • dark green color
  • fragrant when crushed

Autumn Foliage

  • can be yellow green
  • usually nothing to write home about


  • blooms May through July
  • flowers a dark, chocolate brown to maroon
  • up to 2" across
  • comprised of numerous tepals
  • not as showy in bloom as one might expect
  • spicy fragrance, especially in the evening


  • balloon or urn-shaped, tan capsules
  • persist into winter after ripening in October
  • about 2" to 3" long
  • wrinkled surface


  • glabrous twigs
  • gray brown color


  • full sun is best, but tolerant of partial shade
  • likes moist, rich soils best
  • soil pH adaptable
  • prune after flowering
  • may need renewal pruning if it becomes leggy

Landscape Use

  • specimen
  • shrub border
  • woods edge
  • foundation plant
  • for aromatic flowers


  • a favorite target of rabbits
  • can become leggy in shade
  • generally insect and disease free

ID Features

  • foliage aromatic when crushed
  • maroon, multi-tepal flowers in summer
  • fragrant flowers
  • persistent urn-shaped fruits; distinctive
  • buds are densely brown-hairy and surrounded by shelf-like leaf scars


  • by cuttings
  • by seed


'Athens' - Unusual form with flowers that are yellow and very fragrant. Flowers may be produced after initial late spring flush, often into mid-summer. Habit is dense and mounded (to 6' tall), with glossy leaves. A handsome form that has been well-received by horticulturists.

'Edith Wilder' - Flowers are reddish-brown and very fragrant. Leaves are more rounded than typical. Fall color is a reasonably good yellow. Grows larger (10' tall) than typical for the species.

'Michael Lindsey' - Very fragrant red-brown flowers. Habit is dense, compact and rounded (6' to 10' tall). Excellent shiny, dark green foliage and golden yellow fall color. Considered the finest red-flowered form.


© Copyright Mark H. Brand, 1997-2015.

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Citation and Acknowledgements: University of Connecticut Plant Database,, Mark H. Brand, Department of Plant Science and Landscape Architecture, Storrs, CT 06269-4067 USA.