Sweet-shrub or Carolina Allspice:
Searching for Strawberry Fragrance

By William T. Hathaway

Sweet-shrub or Carolina Allspice (Calycanthus florida var. laevigatus)

This species is found in various habitats from alluvial woods, stream banks and mixed deciduous forests.

I photographed this variety on a sandy bank of the Dan River near the old railroad trestle in Danville. With great expectations I invited members of our hiking crew to take a sniff of the flowers; what a disappointment, the famous sweet-shrub turned out to be one of those varieties without that pleasing aromatic scent. Even though the flowers were freshly open on the branches, the great Hathaway's magical prediction had failed again. Thank goodness other sites of the same species possessed the marvelous fragrance of strawberry.

Gray's Manual of Botany states that the generic name Calycanthus is composed of the Greek calyx, a cup, and anthos, flower.

Also see this illustration in larger format.