Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Plant Profile: Calycanthus floridus / Carolina Allspice

There's nothing more enjoyable than spotting a beautiful, not so common shrub among the familiar.


Having visited the Toronto Botanical Gardens today, I had the privilege to take some photos of the grounds and I stumbled on one of my most favourite flowering shrubs: the Carolina Allspice.  Calycanthus floridus has such lovely, unique blooms which catch your eye and thankfully I came for a visit just when they were at their peak.


Rich, maroon red flowers that are held in tight buds to begin - reaching to at least 10 cm in diameter when fully opened. Depending on the light, sometimes the flower colours can range to dark pinks.


As the name suggests, allspice and or a strawberry like fragrance is emitted when smelling the flower and crushing the foliage.


In my experience, I've seen them grow to at least 8-10 feet tall and about the same in width. Growing both in full sun to quite a bit of shade. In shadier areas, they can get a bit leggy - stretching for what ever light they an reach.


Zone hardiness is between 5-9. Flowering time, between May-July. Yellow fall leaf colour. Great seed pods that provide winter interest and craft making opportunities. I used to play with the seeds which often smell a bit like red wine.


When we have brutal, harsh winters here in Toronto, they are known to die back some, but rebounding really well if they are situated in rich, loamy soils. In warmer climates, they can sucker and self-seed quite a bit. Easily remedied by pruning and removing the seed pods in August.


If I had the space, this would certainly be in my garden!


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