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Results tagged “calycanthaceae”

Feb 12, 2014: Calycanthus floridus 'Athens'

Calycanthus floridus 'Athens'

All three of the commonly-recognized species of Calycanthus (sweetshrubs or spicebushes) have previously been featured on BPotD: Calycanthus occidentalis from western USA, Calycanthus chinensis from eastern China (syn. Sinocalycanthus chinensis), and Calycanthus floridus from eastern USA. A fourth species, Calycanthus brockianus, endemic to Georgia (USA) is sometimes accepted.

Calycanthus floridus 'Athens' is a yellow-flowered variant of the species. Prominent horticulturist Michael Dirr makes note of the history of this taxon in his Manual of Woody Landscape Plants, stating that the origin of the yellow-flowered variant has been "lost to antiquity". He further describes it as having a "tremendous fragrance--as good as I have ever experienced on any sweetshrub...this plant has brought great delight to our garden and home and virtually every garden could make use of such a plant". This cultivar was introduced to the trade through the plant evaluation programs at the University of Georgia in Athens (the photo is from the State Botanical Garden of Georgia, also in the city).

Nov 4, 2011: Calycanthus floridus

Calycanthus floridus

Carolina-allspice or sweetshrub is native to the eastern United States. Two varieties are recognized by the Flora of North America, with somewhat overlapping distributions: Calycanthus floridus var. floridus which has a range nudging a bit more to the east, and Calycanthus floridus var. glaucus, with a range extending a bit more north and west than var. floridus. Calycanthus floridus var. floridus has pubescent twigs, petioles and leaves (the abaxial surface), with its counterpart lacking these small hairs. I suspect the plant in today's photograph is Calycanthus floridus var. glaucus.

As its name implies, this is a fragrant species. Oils distilled from the flowers are purported to have a "fruity odour reminiscent of ripe apples", while the "bark of this tree [shrub] has a fragrance like cinnamon, for which it is sometimes used as a substitute" (both quotes are from Nigel Groom's The New Perfume Handbook). Flowers on this shrub (to 4m) smell like pineapple or strawberry, leading to two other common names: strawberry-shrub or pineapple-shrub.

Calycanthus floridus is recognized as a Plant of Merit by Missouri Botanical Garden. Additional photographs and writings about this taxon are available from Beautiful Wildlife Garden: Calycanthus floridus.

This photograph is from May of this year in the Asheville Botanical Gardens.

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