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Chimonanthus praecox (wintersweet)

Wintersweet is grown chiefly for the wonderful scent produced by its small flowers in late winter and early spring.
Chimonanthus praecox (wintersweet) flowers

Flowers of Chimonanthus praecox (wintersweet) (Photo: Wolfgang Stuppy)

Species information

Scientific name: 

Chimonanthus praecox (L.) Link

Common name: 

wintersweet, Japanese allspice, La Mei Hua

Conservation status: 

Listed as Vulnerable in 2005 by IUCN-SSC (Species Survival Commission) Chinese Plant Specialist Group (VU A1 ac+2c).

Habitat: 

Montane forest.

Key Uses: 

Ornamental, medicinal, cosmetic, culinary.

Known hazards: 

None known.

Taxonomy

Subclass: 
Superorder: 
Magnolianae
Order: 
Laurales
Family: 
Calycanthaceae
Genus: Chimonanthus

About this species

Wintersweet has been cultivated in China for more than 1,000 years and has been introduced to Japan, Korea, Europe, Australia and the United States. It is a familiar plant in British gardens, where it is grown mainly for its gorgeous scent. The rather insignificant, creamy-yellow, waxy flowers are borne on bare stems from about December to March, with the leaves appearing later.

Long esteemed in China and Japan for its fragrance, many parts of the plant are rich in essential oils and are also used for culinary and medicinal purposes.

Synonym: 

Chimonanthus fragrans

Genus: 
Chimonanthus

main info

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