Friday, May 7, 2010

Calycanthus floridus

Sweet Shurb, Strawberry Bush, Carolina Allspice, Bubby Bush, Sweet Betsy and Florida Spice Bush... would a plant by any other name smell so sweet?

This has got to be my favorite new plant discovery. When warm, the flowers of calycanthus smell absolutely divine - like strawberries, bubble gum, peach yogurt - anything and everything delicious! We have one of these gems along our eastern edge, right along side the porch swing, and boy is it a delight to sit and rock, reading to Ben and enveloped in the sweet wonderfulness of calycanthus.

I asked the ladies of my knitting group about calycanthus and the Southern drawls really stated to drip and lilt as they told stories of picking the blossoms on the way to church, clandestinely enjoying the sweet smells during long sermons or of rubbing the blossoms behind their youthful ears for perfume. I love my knitting group for many many reasons, but listening to the matriarchs of the group tell tales about their girlhood in and around Lexington has been an extra special gift.

Two little-known facts (at least to me) are that the seeds (contained in that lumpy pod below) are poisonous, and that the bark, when scratched smells like camphor. The camphor scent can last for years when twigs are cut and stored in a dry place. Off to scratch the calycanthus and smell for myself!

1 comment:

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