Calycanthus floridus is a shrub to 3.5 m tall, stems stout, flattened at nodes, aromatic if bruised; densely colonial from rhizomes.
Leaves opposite stalk to 1 cm long, lateral buds partly covered by base; 5-15 cm long, 2-6 cm wide, elliptic to egg-shaped, mostly smooth, underside softly hairy, margin entire (Radford et al. 1968; Seiler 2007).
Flowers dark reddish-purple or brownish, 4-7 cm wide, radially symmetrical, petals and sepals the same (tepals) 15-30, linear, spirally arranged, arising from the floral base (Hypanthium), the flower usually appearing rather shaggy, stamens 5-30, sterile stamens 10-25; pistils 5-35, arising from inside the floral base; blooms June-July.
Fruit green, inflated floral base, becoming dry, brownish 3-6 cm long, 3 cm wide, wrinkled, persistent, eventually splitting open irregularly to release round, hairy seeds about 0.6 cm long; Sept-winter (Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+; Brand 2001). Native in mountains PA & south.
Wetland status: NL.
Frequency in NYC: Very infrequent.
Origin: Native but mostly southern.
Habitat: Forest understory. These probably escaped or overgrown by natural vegetation.