Calycanthus occidentalis

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Species Name: Calycanthus occidentalis
Common Name: Spice Bush

Unusual lotus-shaped flowers are very showy against bright green leaves. Crushed foliage described as smelling "like an old wine barrel." Excellent for bird habitat, shade, or riparian garden. Deer resistant.

Plant Family: Calycanthaceae
Plant Type: Shrub
Height by Width: 9' H x 9' W
Growth Habit: Dense and rounded
Deciduous/Evergreen: Winter deciduous
Growth Rate: Fast
Sun Exposure: Full sun to shade
Soil Preference: Adaptable
Water Requirements: Regular
Cold Hardy to: 20 degrees F
Flower Season: Summer
Flower Color: Red
Endangered?: Not listed
Distribution: Southern part of the Outer North Coast Range, Inner North Coast Range, southern Cascade Range, Sierra Nevada Foothills, central and southern High Sierra Nevada
Natural Habitat: Moist, shady places, canyons and streamsides in Foothill Woodland and Yellow Pine Forest, usually below 4500'

Songbird iconA.jpg Butterfly iconA.jpg Fragrant iconA.jpg Slope iconA.jpg

Care and Maintenance

  • Introduced into cultivation in California by Theodore Payne.
  • From California Native Plants, Theodore Payne's 1941 catalog: "An unusual and distinctive deciduous shrub with large bright green leaves and chocolate brown flwoers. Both flowers and leaves fragrant when crushed. Grows 5 to 10 feet high and does best in shade or partial shade with some moisture; adds a very decided note of interest to any shrubbery planting. Gallon cans, 50c; 5 gallon cans, $1.75. Balled plants, large bushy specimens, 3 to 4 feet, $3.50; 4 to 5 feet, $5.00."
Other Names
  • Bornstein, Carol, David Fross, and Bart O'Brien. California Native Plants for the Garden. Los Olivos, CA: Cachuma Press. 2005.