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Q. Who is Mr. Smarty Plants?

A: There are those who suspect Wildflower Center volunteers are the culpable and capable culprits. Yet, others think staff members play some, albeit small, role. You can torture us with your plant questions, but we will never reveal the Green Guru's secret identity.

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Ask Mr. Smarty Plants is a free service provided by the staff and volunteers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center.

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Wednesday - April 25, 2012

From: Old Saybrook, CT
Region: Northeast
Topic: Plant Identification, Shrubs
Title: Identity of shrub with brownish flowers called cinnamon bush
Answered by: Nan Hampton

QUESTION:

When I lived in Vernon, CT, my neighbor had a small shrub/tree approximately 5 ft tall with small ovate slightly serrated leaves. In spring it produced reddish brown flowers that were of a hardened paper consistency that had a spicy scent. The flowers lasted a long time and dried on the shrub. He called it a cinnamon bush. It does not seem to match any of the descriptions you currently have as it does not have yellow flowers. I would like to know the name of this shrub and where I may be able to obtain a specimen.

ANSWER:

There is a good chance that the shrub you are interested in is not native to North America.  If so, it is going to be harder for me to locate since the Wildflower Center's focus and expertise are with plants native to North America.   However, here are a couple of native possibilities:

1.  Calycanthus floridus (Eastern sweetshrub or Carolina allspice) fits your description fairly well.

 Here are more photos from:

2.  Asimina triloba (Pawpaw) has flowers that resemble those you describe, but not the scent.

 

 

From the Image Gallery


Eastern sweetshrub
Calycanthus floridus

Pawpaw
Asimina triloba

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