Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Calycanthus floridus L.

Fully hardy, bushy, spreading shrub with oval or oblong leaves to 12cm, and fragrant, dark red flowers, 5cm across and resembling a tiny water-lily with numerous strap-shaped petals, in summer.  To 2.5m.  [RHSE, Hortus, Hilliers’].

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘The Calycanthus floridus is a spreading, deciduous, hardy shrub of low growth, seldom rising above the height of four or five feet, producing numerous flowers from May to August, singular in their form, colour, and scent, the latter Mr. Miller describes as disagreeable, contrary to the general opinion; the bark has a very strong aromatic odour, whence the inhabitants of Carolina gave it the title of Allspice. […] Mr. Catesby, who first introduced it into the English gardens in 1726, procured it from the country, some hundred miles on the back of Charles-town, in Carolina.  It was very scarce here till about the year 1757, when many plants were brought from Carolina.’  [BM t.503/1801]. 

‘The bark of Calycanthus floridus, from its aromatic fragrance, is used as a substitute for cinnamon in the USA.’  Six varieties are listed.  [JD].

History at Camden Park

Listed in all published catalogues [T.191/1843].  A plant was presented to the Sydney Botanic Garden on December 24th 1845 [RBGS AB].


Published Mar 02, 2009 - 04:50 PM | Last updated Jul 15, 2010 - 05:35 PM

Illustrated are ova leaves dark red flowers with numerous petals.  Curtis's Botanical Magazine t.503, 1801.

Calycanthus floridus L. | BM t.503/1801 | BHL

Family Calycanthaceae
Region of origin

South eastern USA

Common Name

Carollina allspice, Common sweetshrub, Strawberry bush, Virginia allspice tree

Name in the Camden Park Record

Calycanthus floridus - Virginia allspice tree 

Confidence level high