Calycanthus floridus var glaucus – Carolina Allspice

This is a flower of the spectacularly named Calycanthus floridus var. glaucus or the Carolina Allspice.  As it happens it is the only flower on our shrub but what it lacks in quantity it makes up for in beauty.  It originates from the woodlands and streamsides of South Eastern America and can grow to 2.5m high and 3m across.  The hermaphrodite, dark red or brown flowers, depending on the light, are waterlily shaped with similarly shaped petals and tepals and a spicy evening fragrance.   An oil distilled from the flowers is used in perfumery.  The bark and leaves when crushed smell of camphor and can be used as an insect repellent.  So it really is “all spice”.  On the downside it contains a chemical called calycanthine which is similar to strychnine, with the same unsavoury results if eaten by man or beast.  The exception is rabbits who apparently love it to no ill effect.  The deer haven’t nibbled it yet, are you thinking what I’m thinking …….?

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