Sweet Shrub (Calycanthus floridus 'Athens')

Common names:
Give a thumbs up Sweet Shrub
Give a thumbs up Carolina Allspice
Give a thumbs up Strawberry Shrub
Give a thumbs up Bubby Bush
Give a thumbs up Sweet Betsy
Give a thumbs up Spicebush
Give a thumbs up Eastern Sweetshrub

General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Shrub
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Full Sun
Full Sun to Partial Shade
Partial or Dappled Shade
Water Preferences: Mesic
Minimum cold hardiness: Zone 4b -31.7 °C (-25 °F) to -28.9 °C (-20 °F)
Maximum recommended zone: Zone 9b
Plant Height: 3 to 9 feet
Plant Spread: 6 to 12 feet
Leaves: Good fall color
Other: leaves turn yellow in fall
Fruit: Other: Persists on plant through winter
Flowers: Showy
Blooms on old wood
Blooms on new wood
Other: Try to purchase sweetshrub when in bloom to find one with fragrance. There is variation in the amount and nature of the perfume. The flowers also seem to become more fragrant as they age.
Flower Color: Green
Other: yellow greenish white
Bloom Size: 1"-2"
Flower Time: Spring
Late spring or early summer
Late summer or early fall
Other: begins bloom in spring & then off & on through summer
Uses: Windbreak or Hedge
Cut Flower
Dried Flower
Will Naturalize
Wildlife Attractant: Bees
Resistances: Deer Resistant
Toxicity: Other: Ruminants are reported to have a toxic reaction from grazing this plant. Calycanthus contains calycanthine, an alkaloid similar to strychnine, and it is toxic to humans and livestock if consumed in large quantities.
Propagation: Seeds: Sow in situ
Other info: Seed needs to be fresh. Plant right away or stratify for 60 days before planting.
Propagation: Other methods: Cuttings: Stem
Stolons and runners
Pollinators: Various insects
Containers: Suitable in 3 gallon or larger
Needs repotting every 2 to 3 years
Needs excellent drainage in pots


Photo gallery:
Location: Jenkins Arboretum in Berwyn, PennsylvaniaDate: 2018-05-27white flowers and foliage
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Location: OhioDate: 2010-05-29Three years old.  Very fragrant sweet apple scent.
By Val
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Location: Jenkins Arboretum in Berwyn, PennsylvaniaDate: 2018-05-27shrub in border
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Location: OhioDate: 2010-04-19
By Val
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Posted by flaflwrgrl (North Fl. - Zone 8b) on Jul 14, 2014 7:47 PM

The Athens cultivar has highly fragrant flowers. The scent is described as a sweet apple fragrance. Though the yellow/green blooms of Athens are beautiful up close, they do not show well at a distance.

Native to Al, Ct, DC, De, Fl, Ga, Il, Ky, La, Ma, Md, Mo, Ms, NC, NY, Oh, Pa, SC, Tn, Va, WV.

Leaves are opposite, simple, have smooth margins, oblong, glossy, aromatic & leathery, 4 - 6" long & 2-3" wide. Blooms are axillary with straplike petals.Very resistant to disease & insect problems.
It is recommended that you purchase or obtain your plant while it is in bloom as strength of fragrance varies greatly from individual to individual.
The plant suckers prolifically. It has a moderate growth habit. It adapts to many types of soil, but it naturally grows as an understory plant along streams & moist woodlands, where it is inclined to a more open shape. It does grow well in full sun, where it blooms more prolifically & has a more rounded habit although shaping is required to maintain such, and in full sun it has a slower growth rate.
The leaves, seed pods, stems & bark are spicily aromatic, reminiscent of cinnamon.
It prefers moist soil, but it will survive periods of drought.
Often planted near doorways or outdoor spaces in order to take advantage of the wonderful fragrance.
An easy to grow plant & much underused. Pollinated by insects.

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Posted by ILPARW (southeast Pennsylvania - Zone 6b) on May 28, 2018 9:22 AM

This 'Athens' cultivar is noted as growing in a dense, rounded form and it bears pale yellow flowers that should always have good fragrance. The only one of this shrub I have seen is at Jenkins Arboretum in southeast Pennsylvania and its flowers looked more white when I viewed the plant. This cultivar is good for USDA Zones 4 to 8.

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Discussion Threads about this plant
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
What did YOU do outside today? by crittergarden Aug 31, 2019 9:31 AM 7,179
Sweet Shrub Experiment (Calycanthus floridus) by JB Mar 26, 2017 5:58 PM 195
Preparation of sweet shrubs by seedpods by JB Jan 29, 2014 12:38 PM 7
Calycanthus Aphrodite by rosebud Aug 27, 2017 8:31 AM 15
Calycanthus floridus 'Michael Lindsey' by JB Dec 1, 2017 1:43 PM 13
Calycanthus by Val Apr 3, 2010 2:23 PM 9
Let's see your favorite, and most beautiful Shrubs! by gemini_sage Aug 13, 2014 10:00 AM 67

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