Plant of the Week

Eastern Sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus L.)

By Rhonda Stewart

Map of the United States showing states. States are colored green where eastern sweetshrub may be found.
Range map of Eastern sweetshrub. States are colored green where the species may be found.

Vasey's trillium.
Eastern Sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus L.). Photo by Alan S. Heilman, University of Tennessee Herbarium.

The Eastern Sweetshrub is a native shrub that reaches 6 to 9 feet in height. The highly fragrant twigs, leaves, and flowers give rise to another common name of Carolina allspice. The flowers are deep red to maroon, and last a month or more. Some varieties may produce orange to yellow flowers. Urn-shaped fruits are formed in the summer, and the fall foliage is a light to bright yellow. Sweetshrub is native to the eastern United States.

The Eastern Sweetshrub is a showcase garden shrub for all seasons. The striking 2-inch fragrant flowers in the spring and early summer, drooping fruit in summer, and the bright yellow fall foliage color combine to make this a highly desirable native garden shrub. It is best grown from bare-root or containerized starts or clonal suckers, planting in the fall or early spring. It colonizes, but growth and spreading is slow. It requires very little pruning, done immediately after flowering to shape or maintain compactness. Sweetshrub is a wonderful choice because of its adaptability to many soil, water, and light conditions. It will tolerate moist to well-drained soils, partial shade to sun, and can be planted on the west, south or east side of buildings. It is easy to grow, a low maintenance shrub, with no known pests or diseases, and is drought tolerant.

eastern sweetshrub stem, leaves, and flowers.
Eastern Sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus L.). Photo by Wofford and Chester, University of Tennessee Herbarium.

Plant Sweetshrub near a front door, patio, or other living areas where the fragrant flower aroma may be enjoyed. The fragrance seems to increase as the plant matures. Sweetshrub does well in combinations with other shrubs, shrub borders, or as fence or foundation plantings. It also is a good choice to integrate cultivated gardens into naturalized areas. Sweetshrub produces good cut flowers, and the flowers, leaves, twigs and bark may be dried to use in potpourri.

For More Information: PLANTS Profile - Calycanthus floridus L., Eastern Sweetshrub

Plant of the Week

Decumbent Trillium (Trillium decumbens).
Decumbent Trillium (Trillium decumbens)