What does calycanthus

The Herbaceous plants (Calycanthaceae) are a family in the order of the laurel-like (Laurales). The name is derived from the Greek and means "calyx flower".


Vegetative characteristics

They are evergreen or deciduous, woody plants: small trees and shrubs. They have S-type sieve tube plastids. Some species form rhizomes. They contain essential oils and therefore smell aromatic. The opposite leaves are stalked, simple and leathery. The leaf blade is pinnate and often glandular-dotted. The leaf margin is almost always smooth; rarely on fast-growing branches the leaf margins are somewhat serrated. Stipules are missing.

Generative characteristics

Illustration of the Chinese winter blossom (Chimonanthus praecox)

The flowers stand individually at the ends of leafy short shoots. The hermaphroditic flowers are built up in a spiral with a clearly hollow, i.e. constricted flower axis, also known as a flower cup (hypanthium) (hence the name!). The hypantium is often surrounded by bracts. Each flower contains many (15 to 30), often beautifully colored, free bracts, they change continuously from calyx to corolla-like. There are many (15 to 55) stamens, of which ten to 25 are petal-like staminodes, which are distributed between the five to 30 fertile stamens. It's five to 45, at Idiospermum usually one to rarely three, free, upper carpels with two ovules each; in this they differ from the other families of the Laurales. The free, slender styles each end in a dry scar. The flowers thus have relatively original features. Pollination occurs by insects (mainly beetles) (entomophilia).

The dark reddish-brown, cylindrical, hairy fruits (sometimes called achenes) are surrounded by the enlarged, fleshy hypanthium (a so-called pseudocarp); both together make up the diaspores. The fruits are often grouped into collective fruits. The seeds are poisonous. There is no endosperm.


Your area is disjoint. Except the Australian one Idiospermum australiense the species occur only in the Holarctic: in North America and East Asia, but not in Europe. Fossil finds that are counted among the Calycanthaceae go back to the early Cretaceous. Some species are planted as ornamental plants in parks and gardens, in Central Europe not all species are hardy.


The Calycanthaceae are the sister group to all other families of the order Laurales.

The family of the herbaceous plants (Calycanthaceae) is divided into two subfamilies with three genera and about eleven species [1]:

  • Subfamily Calycanthoideae: With two or three genera:
    • Spice bushes (Calycanthus L., Syn .: Butneria Duhamel, and with some authors as well Sinocalycanthus (W.C.Cheng & S.Y.Chang) W.C.Cheng & S.Y.Chang): With otherwise only two species in western and southeastern North America. (They are used as ornamental plants):
      • Real spice bush (Calycanthus floridus L., Syn .: Calycanthus glaucus Willd., Calycanthus fertilis Walter, Calycanthus nanus (Loiseleur-Deslongchamps) Small, Calycanthus brockianus Ferry & Ferry f., Calycanthus mohrii (Small) Pollard), deciduous shrub. Other German trivial names: Karolina-Nelkenpfeffer, flower-rich spice shrub, wine florets.
      • California spice bush (Calycanthus occidentalis Hook. & Arn.)
    • Winter blossoms (Chimonanthus Lindl.): With four to six species in China:
      • Chimonanthus campanulatus R.H.Chang & C.S.Ding
      • Chimonanthus grammatus M.C.Liu
      • Chimonanthus nitens Oliver
      • Chinese winter bloom (Chimonanthus praecox (L.) Link, Syn .: Calycanthus praecox L .; Chimonanthus yunnanensis W.W. Sm.): Used as an ornamental plant.
      • Chimonanthus salicifolius S.Y.Hu
      • Chimonanthus zhejiangensis M.C.Liu
    • Sinocalycanthus (W.C. Cheng & S.Y. Chang) W.C. Cheng & S.Y. Chang: With only one species in China:
      • Sinocalycanthus chinensis W.C.Cheng & S.Y.Chang (Syn .: Calycanthus chinensis (W.C. Cheng & S.Y. Chang) P.T. Li). Morphological and molecular data indicate that this species is in Calycanthus belongs in.
  • Subfamily Idiospermoideae: With only one monotypic genus:
    • Idiospermum: With only one species that is native to northeastern Australia (Queensland):

Just a synonym for Calycanthaceae Lindl. is the formerly independent family Idiospermaceae S.T.Blake.

Usage and ingredients

Some species are used as ornamental plants for parks and gardens.

Calycanthus-Species contain an alkaloid similar to strychnine, calycanthin is poisonous.

The bark of Calycanthus floridus Used as a spice when dried, it is a substitute for cinnamon. It should be noted that the CalycanthusSpecies are poisonous. Since the leaves of Calycanthus floridus If they contain some camphor, they are used to repel insects, as a perfume and for disinfection. Of Calycanthus occidentalis A dye is obtained from the flowers and baskets are made from the branches. The flowers of Chimonanthus praecox are boiled, then washed and then eaten and perfume is made from them. Medicinal effects of different types have been studied.[2]


Real spice bush (Calycanthus floridus):

  • Screwy flower with many red bracts

  • Flower and simple leaves

  • Blossom from the side on a leafy short shoot

Chinese winter bloom (Chimonanthus praecox):

  • Branches with flowers from below

  • Branch with flowers in their natural position on short shoots

  • Diaspore consisting of fruit and flower parts


  • The Calycanthaceae family on the AP website. (Section description and systematics)
  • The Calycanthaceae family at DELTA. (Section description)
  • "Molecular phylogeny and intra- and intercontinental biogeography of Calycanthaceae"
  • George P. Johnson: Calycanthaceae in the Flora of North America, Volume 3: - Online. (Section description)
  • Bingtao Li & Bruce Bartholomew: Calycanthaceae in the Flora of China, Volume 7, p. 92: Description of the Family - Online. (Section description and systematics)
  • Yannick M. Staedler, Peter H. Weston † & Peter K. Endress: Comparative Gynoecium Structure and Development in Calycanthaceae (Laurales), in International Journal of Plant Sciences, Volume 170, Number 1, 2009, pp. 21-41.

Individual evidence

  1. ↑ Entry at GRIN.
  2. ↑ Entry in Plants for a Future. (engl.)

Web links

Template: Commonscat / WikiData / Difference