March 2nd - . Eastern Sweetshrub (Calycanthus floridus) are among the earliest plants to flower. At Fort Yargo State Park, shrubs grow in two areas on east-facing slopes above the reservoir. Shrubs are quite small, ranging from two-to-six feet tall.
The first location is south of the Fishing Area, in an area that receives early morning sun. Shrubs in the southernmost location bloom first.
I spotted the first buds on March 2nd, and the first flowers on March 27th. Flowers don’t have the ‘traditional’ petals and sepals; the maroon structures are called tepals.
The early flowers in this area, that have some sun exposure, have a brownish tone.
Flowers in more shaded areas in this southern location are pink. The tepals on these flowers are flat and thin, like ribbons.
Shrubs also grow in a shaded area north of the Fishing Area.
The tepals on flowers in this location are more fleshy and a deeper maroon color.
Soon after the earliest plants had bloomed, I was on the lookout for signs of developing seed capsules I did spot a couple, but these didn’t develop any further. I haven’t found any more developing this year.
In 2015, however, several capsules developed to maturity.
The capsules continued to swell, and…
reach their final size by November, and then…
matured to a brown color. These may persist on shrubs through winter until spring, when they fall.
- Native and Naturalized Plants of the Carolinas and Georgia: Calycanthus floridus
- USDA Plant Database: Calycanthus floridus (Eastern Sweetshrub)