Sweetshrub or Carolina allspice is a favorite native plant; the flowers being like no other. The petals on these flowers are actually tepals. Another famous example of a tepal is the "petals" on Magnolia flowers.
Variety purpureus is extra special due to rich purple color of the backsides of leaves, maturing leaves especially (i.e., not the new growth).
On Calycanthus floridus variety purpureus, the leaf uppersides are darker green than the species and other types. We like it for that reason too - the color variation amongst the different sweetshrubs in our collection adds interest to our woodland garden.
The flowers on this purple leaf variety are the typical burgundy of most other types, but it's those purple leaf undersides that make this unique.
We do like purple here at the nursery (see the purple on our pages?), so we're predictably drawn to the purple backsides of this sweetshrub variety.
Fall color, as on most Calycanthus, can be a quite lovely yellow, golden yellow, or burnt yellow.
Back to the flowers, they smell exactly like very ripe bananas; the kind so ripe they make the best banana bread.
A hybrid relative is Calycanthus x raulstonii 'Hartlage Wine' and a native relative is 'Athens' sweetshrub.
Purple-leaved Carolina allspice, Raulston allspice, strawberry shrub, sweetshrub, bubby bush, bubby blossom, sweet bubby, sweet bettie, spicebush
Calycanthus floridus var. floridus, 'Purpureus'
USDA Hardiness Zones
flowering shrub, deciduous
- Spring: dark green, purple
- Summer: dark green, purple
Fall Leaf Color Quality
Soil Moisture Requirements
average garden soil, moist-but-draining, no standing water
Soil pH Requirements
acid, neutral, alkaline
full sun, part shade, full shade
To Make It Thrive
In the Deep South, Calycanthus loves growing in dappled shade or in a location where it receives morning sun, but shade all afternoon. For this shady reason, it's a good partner for a hydrnagea garden. Further north, it can tolerate more sun and in the sun it doesn't grow quite as tall. It prefers a rich, loamy soil (a woodland soil). Calycanthus will thrive and colonize in the situations herein described.