Calycanthus floridus L.

Carolina Allspice

Calycanthus floridus plant

Family - Calycanthaceae

Stems - Shrubs to 3 m, stems hairy

Calycanthus_floridus_leafStem and node.

Leaves - Opposite, simple, short petiolate, ovate to oblong-elliptic, entire, adaxially roughened, abaxially pubescent.

Calycanthus_floridus_leafLeaf abaxial.

Inflorescence - Flowers solitary at branch tips.

Calycanthus_floridus_inflorescenceInflorescence structure.

Flowers - Actinomorphic, perfect, perigynous. Perianth of numerous free tepals to 4.0 cm long, hairy on the outer surface, red to maroon, the innermost tepals usually white-tipped. Stamens numerous, the outer 10-15 fertile and the inner 10-25 reduced to linear, hairy staminodes. Pistils 10-35 per flower, each with 1 carpel. Ovary with 1 locule and 2 ovules (1 abortive), hairy. Style slender, attached off-center at the tip of the ovary, with a minute, decurrent stigma.



Fruits - Plump achenes 10-12 mm long, finely hairy, dark brown, with a circumferential seam. Enclosed within the expanded, flask-shaped receptacle.

Calycanthus_floridus_fruitAchenes inside receptacle.

Flowering - April - June.

Habitat - Understory or margin of mesic woodlands.

Origin - Native to southeastern U.S.

Other info.- This ia an easy species to identify when flowering becasue of its big, maroon flowers. The stems and leaves of the shrubs have a pleasing strawberry-like odor when crushed. The plants contain alkaloids (e.g. calycanthine) and are poisonous to humans and livestock.
The genus name comes from the Greek "caly" meaning "the calyx" and "anthus" meaning "a flower" as the perianth parts on this species are undifferentiated. The species epithet floridus is from the Latin "florid" meaning "flowery". Missouri plants are considered to be of var. floridus, having leaves which are pubescent on the lower surface.
This plant is very uncommon in Missouri and is certainly worthy of cultivation. The population in Babler State Park (St. Louis County), undoubtedly a remnant of prior plantings at a vanished home site, was discovered in 1995 by members of the Webster Groves Nature Study Society.

Photographs taken in Linville, NC, 5-11-03, and in Auburn, AL, 4-16-05 (DETenaglia); also at Babler State Park, St. Louis County, MO, 11-14-2011 and 5-2-2017 (SRTurner).