Calycanthus occidentalis
"Western Spice Bush"

Photo courtesy of Peganum

One of the prettiest of all the CA native shrubs! In Summer it produces distinctive, 2-3” reddish-brown fragrant blooms that look like Lotus flowers, with the elongated petals unfurling from a tight ball. Growing quickly to 6-10’ tall and 6-8’ wide, it fills in densely with lightly glossy 3-5” leaves that, when rubbed or crushed, produce a spicy scent that reminds me of vinaigrette. Found in moist woodlands in Northern and Central CA, this long-lived deciduous shrub is multi-branching, naturally forming a small tree if not pruned. Can be used as a focal point or mixed in with other part-sun shrubs, where its dense foliage and golden Fall color is sure to please. Butterflies like the flowers and birds will seek out its seeds. It will appreciate regular water from Spring to Fall. Tolerates clayish soils. Prune to shape in Winter. Deer resistant.

Curious Plantsman

Part Sun
Average Water

CA Native Perennial Shrub
USDA zones 7-10