Herb: Carolina Allspice

Latin name: Calycanthus floridus

Synonyms: Calycanthus sterilis

Family: Calycanthaceae (Sweetshrub Family)

Medicinal use of Carolina Allspice:

Antispasmodic, disinfectant. The plant contains an alkaloid that has a powerfully depressant action on the heart. A fluid extract has been used as an antiperiodic. A tea made from the root or bark has been used as a strong emetic and diuretic for kidney and bladder ailments. A cold tea has been used as eye drops in the treatment of failing eyesight. An ooze from the bark has been used to treat children's sores, whilst an infusion has been used to treat hives.

Description of the plant:


2.7 m
(8 3/4 foot)

to July


Habitat of the herb:

Rich low shady woodlands.

Edible parts of Carolina Allspice:

The aromatic bark is dried and used as a substitute for cinnamon.

Other uses of the herb:

Leaves contain small quantities of camphor. They can be used as an insect repellent, perfume and disinfectant.

Propagation of Carolina Allspice:

Seed - best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe. If the seed is harvested "green" (as soon as it has fully developed but before it has dried on the plant) and sown immediately it can germinate in 3 weeks. Dried seed germinates in 1 - 6 months at 15C. Stored seed requires between 3 weeks and 3 months cold stratification before sowing in the spring. When large enough to handle, prick out the seedlings into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant out in late spring or early summer of the following year. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July/August in a frame. They can be difficult. Layering in spring. Sever the new plants in a wet spell of weather about 15 months later and then lift them in the autumn. High percentage. Division of suckers in early spring. Very easy, they can be planted straight out into their permanent positions if required.

Cultivation of the herb:

Rich low shady woodlands.

Known hazards of Calycanthus floridus:

Ruminants are reported to have a toxic reaction from grazing this plant.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.