Sweet Shrub is native to the Appalachian stream banks of the Smokies, where it is also known as Carolina Allspice, Strawberry Bush, Sweet Shade, and Bubby Blossom. Women used to place the flowers in their bodices as a perfume, hence the name "Bubby Blossom". Sweet shrub was once commonly found as an ornamental around colonial homes, especially south of the Mason-Dixon line. Several large bushes can fill a small yard with the combined fragrance of strawberry, cantaloupe, spiced apple, and burgundy wine. Sweet shrub has a distinctive maroon-red flower about 2" across. It is pollinated by small beetles that were the first pollinators of flowering plants and were instrumental in the evolution of flowering plants, long before bees and flies appeared on the scene. When the flower first opens it has the fragrance of spiced apples as it opens over a period of 7 to 10 days. Flowers first appear in mid-March with a flush of flowers in April, and a trailing out through May. Even the leaves are fragrant when rubbed, and in the fall they turn a sunny yellow. In colonial times the cinnamon-flavored bark was used as a seasoning. Sweet shrubs are ideal for planting close to the house near a window where the fragrance may drift indoors. Plant additional plants by a favorite path or sitting area. Will flower splendidly in full sun, but is best adapted to light shade. Flowers in 2 to 3 years from seed. (Calycanthus floridus)
Medicinal: Useful for damp spleen. An excellent herb for moving stagnant chi. The leaves, twigs, and buds have diaphoretic properties. An emmenagogue, and possibly has some anti-viral activity.
Growing instructions: Perennial in zones 4-10. Germination at 70 degrees F. Scarify seed with a knife or sandpaper. Germinates in 14 to 30 days. Transplant or direct sow. Full sun or part shade. Grows 6 to 8 feet tall. Keep 4 to 6 feet apart.
Packet: 2g - approximately 10 to 14 seeds