Calycanthus floridus L.

Carolina allspice

Family: Calycanthaceae

Calycanthus floridus as the name indicates, comes from Eastern USA where it grows in woodland and along river banks. It forms a shrub, typically multi-stemmed and up to 4m high. The leaves are opposite and are aromatic. The rather distinctive deep brownish-red flowers are produced in spring and early summer. The flowers have a fruity scent (strawberry or pineapple?) and in the wild are pollinated by beetles attracted to a white substance on the inner petals and stamens. The bark is also aromatic. Calycanthus was used as a medicinal plant by Native Americans and an essential oil used in perfumery is distilled from the flowers.
Calycanthus is one of only three genera in the small Calycanthaceae family.

Photos taken in Belfast Botanic Gardens in May 2019. Copyright: Friends of Belfast Botanic Gardens.