The deciduous Californian allspice is putting on a show of purplish-red flowers in the Woodland Garden.
The genus Calycanthus belongs to the family Calycanthaceae, and comprises three species of North American woodland and streamside shrubs. This one, C. occidentalis, originates, as it’s specific name suggests, from California, from whence it was introduced by the Scottish plant hunter David Douglas in 1831. It has a loose habit, with arching stems, and grows to 3m in height and 4m across. Throughout summer it produces dark, scented, terminal flowers, which have lance-shaped or elliptic petals, and which resemble water lilies or magnolias. The leaves and stem emit a spicy aroma when bruised.