Sweetshrub: An Old Fashioned, Sentimental Favorite

As a child, I enjoyed plucking the flowers and breathing in the sweet scent of this native shrub.  European settlers in America first discovered sweetshrub ( Calycanthus floridus) in the 1730s in the woodlands of the piedmont area of the Carolinas.  The bark of this deciduous shrub is said to smell like camphor, while the scent of the flower has been compared to bubblegum.  Calycanthus oil is an essential oil that is distilled from the flowers and is used in some perfumes.  Sweetshrub still grows wild in the southeastern U.S.  Although in other parts of the country it is seen as having only minor garden value, it remains a sentimental favorite in Southern gardens.  (3 images)

Sweetshrub #1

Sweetshrub #2

Sweetshrub #3

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9 Comments Add yours

  1. Joye Fuller says:

    Deb, I love sweet shrubs and had wondered about purchasing one for mother’s yard. Do you know if a nursery carries them? I haven’t explored with any to discover if I could find one to buy but this encourages me to do so… The aroma always brings back wonderful childhood memories from being at my grandmother’s. There was a bush outside the bedroom window.


    1. Joye, I have no idea if any nurseries carry them. I read an article that said they can be propagated from cuttings, but this should be done in mid-summer. If you remind me again toward the end of June, maybe we can do that and try to propagate one for your mother from cuttings from one of mine.


      1. Joye Fuller says:

        That would be wonderful , Deb. She would LOVE that-and that it comes from you.
        Martine bought her a persimmon tree and it already has persimmons on it.. Still in the pot and now I am afraid to move it to the ground–afraid it may drop all the fruit.


  2. Such a lovely deeply colored flower 😉 Now you’ve inspired me to watch for this shrub for sale. Best wishes, WG


    1. Sweetshrub brings back so many pleasant childhood memories. I’ve never seen it for sale at a garden center or local nursery, but maybe that’s because I wasn’t actually looking for it. 🙂 It just grows wild in the woods here.


      1. I’ve read about it many times, and have wanted to grow it in the garden for a while. I have never found it in a garden center, either. I did a quick check at Plant Delights, but they don’t stock it. Now, a challenge to locate it 😉 Best wishes, WG


  3. Sarah Jane Barker says:

    Could you send me directions on how to start the did sweet bush from the seeds.
    I have one that I got from my moms, she got her start from her mother. I would love to start a nursery, growing the bushes her in north Wilkesboro, N.C. 28659


    1. I’m sorry, I have never started them from seeds. The sweet shrub plants on my property were here when we moved in over 25 years ago. They are at the edge of the woods.


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