Q: When is a Magnolia not a Magnolia?
A: When it’s a Calycanthus.
Calycanthus is an ornamental, multi-stemmed shrub that caught my eye last year at one of the flower shows. Large, creamy flower buds open out to fragrant blooms held above the foliage. The fleshy flowers are often compared to a magnolia, although the petals are slim, curly and more plentiful.
Calycanthus ‘Venus’ has larger flowers than your average sweetshrub. Unusually they are white with hints of greenish yellow instead of the more common red-maroon, their maroon centres making a lovely contrast. As the common name suggests, the blooms have a sweet, fruity fragrance – this variety has notes of strawberries and melons.
The leaves turn yellow in autumn for extra interest.
You might know Calycanthus by these folk names:
Florida Spice Bush