This is a shrub that deserves a place in any landscape. The reddish-brown to maroon 2-inch diameter flowers are very showy and fragrant and have been described as having a hoppy beer like scent to that of a mixture strawberry and bananas- smell is in the nose of the beholder apparently. The scent will fill an area and is most noticeable in the evening as the plant is largely pollinated by moths.
The Carolina allspice is easily grown and prefers well drained soils. It will grow larger in shade than when it is planted in the sun and has a denser and more compact growth habit in the sun than when in shade. The shrub adapts well and will grow in clay and rocky soils. The dark green leaves are about 6 inches long and are pale underneath and aromatic when bruised.
The aroma and beauty of the Carolina allspice often led it to be referred to as Sweetshrub, but this name is often confused with many other species. Historically, the plant was a favorite and the Bartrams sold many and advertised it in their catalog as “Calycanthus floridus – Odoriferous, its blossoms scented like the Pine apple.” George Washington received several Carolina allspices from a friend and documented in his farm journal, “planted 6 of the Sweet scented, or aromatic shrub in my Shrubberies, on each side the Serpentine walks on this (or East) side of the Garden gate.” Thomas Jefferson loved the Carolina allspice sending it to friends throughout his life and installing mass plantings of the species at his Monticello farm in 1778, 1794, 1812, and 1815. Carolina allspice still thrive at the historic site to this day.
While Carolina allspice is noted for its deer tolerance it does serve the wildlife and ecosystem by being a host plant to four species of butterflies and moths. Carolina allspice serves as important nectar species for hummingbirds, bees, and other pollinators. ■