Sweetshrub – Identification
Q: There is a wooded area behind our house which has an apparently native blooming shrub. It has odd-looking red blossoms. It also seems to spread easily and I’m wondering how to get it under control.
A: Your plant is a sweetshrub, Calycanthus floridus. The red flowers are strap-like, unlike the native azalea flowers you’ll often see nearby. Old-timers once called it “sweet bubby” due to the flower fragrance. In my opinion, the smell is pretty weak in most, but not all, cases. I am told that yellow-flowered ‘Athens’ is usually fragrant. The crushed leaves are pleasant-smelling.
If you choose to buy one in the future, purchase it only when in bloom, so you can check the scent.
As you’ve noticed, the plant suckers profusely. I simply cut mine back to its boundaries with a machete whenever it escapes.