Spacing: 4-6 ft. (1.2-1.8 m) 6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m) 8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)
Hardiness: USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 °C (-25 °F) USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 °C (-20 °F) USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 °C (-15 °F) USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 °C (-10 °F) USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 °C (-5 °F) USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 °C (0 °F) USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 °C (5 °F) USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F) USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F) USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 °C (20 °F) USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 °C (25 °F)
Sun Exposure: Partial to Full Shade
Danger: Seed is poisonous if ingested Parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
Bloom Color: Maroon (Purple-Brown) Brown/Bronze
Bloom Time: Mid Spring Late Spring/Early Summer
Other details: Flowers are fragrant Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater This plant may be considered a protected species; check before digging or gathering seeds This plant is resistant to deer
Soil pH requirements: 6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic) 6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
Patent Information: Non-patented
Propagation Methods: By dividing the rootball From softwood cuttings From semi-hardwood cuttings From hardwood cuttings
Seed Collecting: Bag seedheads to capture ripening seed Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds N/A: plant does not set seed, flowers are sterile, or plants will not come true from seed
On May 19, 2013, whipporwill from Middlebury, IN wrote:
My sweet shrub is growing(and scenting) nicely in Northern Indiana. It has been divided several times. It was transported from my childhood home in the Shenandoah Valley of VA. and doing well in Elkhart Co. IN. A great conversation plant and deer don't bother it!
On Jun 3, 2012, countrylife4me from Beargrass, NC wrote:
I have a question. My Sweet Betsy bush has never flowered. I moved it and put it in a pot where it has been for a couple of years now. Any suggestions as to what to do for it? I live on a wooded lot with very little sunshine.
On May 26, 2011, joylederman from Dover, PA wrote:
I have a question about Sweet Shrub. This is often listed as a plant attractive to birds & wildlife (in fact, I just got one from Tractor Supply, specifically sold as "Plants for Birds & Wildlife"). What is the feature of the plant that the critters like? Do birds eat the seedheads? Just wondering.
On May 20, 2011, JMCDawg from Statesboro, GA wrote:
My Parents had Sweet Scrub planted outside bedroom window. It was always so good waking up with this sweet aroma in the air. Daddy would keep several blooms in his shirt pockets and pass them out at church. They are both gone now. Daddy passed this past November at the age of 98. There anniversary would have been May 5. I fill a vase with cuttings and put at the cemetary. I could sense there smile.
On Feb 21, 2011, daisys_tia from Battleboro, NC wrote:
My grandparents lived in a small town in NC and they had, as my Granny called it, " a Sweet Betsy Bush." This bush would be in bloom by mid spring and seemed like it would bloom through the summer. As kids playing and Granny watching us from her porch swing she would tell us to brush by the bush or pinch one so we could smell the sweet aroma as we played. This brings back such sweet memories of times gone by. As I remember, it was a hardy bush and all of us grandchildren loved to pick a blossom and smell it all day. The more you pinched it the better it smelled. For everyone that has one of the shrubs, I hope it brings great memories to you as well. I plan on planting some by my front porch so my grandchildren can have this wonderful experience also!!
On Feb 13, 2011, RosemaryK from Lexington, MA (Zone 6a) wrote:
Wow! I can't wait to smell one. These are the cultivars listed In Dirr's Hardy Shrubs and Trees: 'Athens' or 'Katherine': a deliciously fragrant yellow flowered clone with heavier textured dard green leaves that turn golden yellow in autum; 'Edith Wilder': like the specieis but with guaranteed floral fragrance; 'Michael Lindsey': fragrant maroon flowers and spinach colored leaves on a more compact framework. I have also looked over the hybrids with the Chinese plant such as 'Hartlage Wine,' and although they sound great in looks, one can't expect them to inherit the fragrance of our American species. Now the job is to wait and smell some in bloom in order to choose. My local New England nurseries claim they sell them out every year.
Having grown up with Sweet Shrubs in the South, while some find them invasive, I love having them around. They grow in most any soil, even the clay-chirt mixture of the south-TN area where I now live. I did come by a rather unusual green-flowered form with an intense fragrance that wafts through the entire garden in summer evenings. It has viable seed pods and I'm presently raising seedlings. Can't wait to see how it grows!
On Nov 8, 2010, burien_gardener from Burien (SW Seattle), WA (Zone 8b) wrote:
I have a large spice bush in my south Seattle, Puget Sound garden. It does take a gardener to appreciate the flowers as it is not showy. However, I've seen White Flower Farm (?) offer a variety or hybrid with large white camellia-like flowers.
As to propagation, my observation is that spice bush is one of those thicket-forming understory plants. Mine has produced a number of suckers and I get to distribute them through my garden -- Yea, free plants!
On Nov 8, 2010, shannon2299 from Owen Sound Canada wrote:
Hi : I live in Owen Sound, Ontario,Canada...we have a Carolina Allspice in our back yard, it is about 30 years old now...My mother brought home a cutting from BC. Canada from my cousins...It stands around 10 feet now...One problem..I have tried to start a new plant. from softwood, and hardwood cuttings...It does not produce seed pods in the fall..can anyone tell me how come it does not produce seeds pods..I have had no luck starting new plants...I could use some advise...Thanks Shannon
On Jun 25, 2010, GardenSite from Woodbridge, VA wrote:
My "bubby-rose" as grandma called it, grew from a seed pod off a huge old bush at my grandmothers house in Pulaski, VA. This is its 12th year and did it ever blossom. I counted 37 blossoms while previous years have ranged from 0 to 3. And oh they smell so good... It has survived 4 in-state moves, various containers and at 3ft tall is the heartiest it has been.
During my 12 years of watching I researched to find out the name and where it came from. At the start I knew of one at grandmas and one across the street from grandmas. It was certainly a surprise when I volunteered at Woodlawn Plantation to find it growing "like a weed" according to the regular workers, as they were trying to thin it out. The head gardener directed me to Monticello. There I found one growing to the left of the steps leading to the Jefferson cemetery. Jefferson detailed its name and origins in some of his writings at the gift shop.(which helped me find this website) I found one growing across from the Tiger/Lion area at the National Zoo in Washington DC. Even one of my old friends had one growing in his backyard in Arlington, Va.
I'll always cherish the times of my youth at grandmas when right after sunset it's cinnamon-like smell would fill the air. It has been an eye opener to see where all else the bubby-rose has been. If anyone knows some more historic places to find the bubby-rose please post. Thank you for reading and thank you for posting.
On May 7, 2010, gonedutch from Fairport, NY wrote:
I read from comments here that the scent of the flowers reminds readers of applesauce, cinnamon, and nutmeg. My olfactory association is with baked pineapple upside-down cake. The crushed foliage and bark have a more pungent scent still. I find the dozen or so plants in my garden grow well but individual stems are short-lived; about four years. I thin out the old growth each season and find that new growth comes back more vigorously. Here in north-western NY the maximum height of the shrub is about five feet. It grows equally vigorously in sun and shade. And it tolerates growing near Black Walnut trees; an added benefit in our area where squirrels have spread walnut trees all over residential gardens.
When I first moved to my husbands family home in Starr on Maryland's Eastern Shore, there was a very old Carolina Allspice there. It had been planted some 50 years prior by my husband's grandmother. It was nestled in an eastern corner of our old farmhouse, watered by rain that ran off of the un-guttered roof. It was as large as an elephant, and smelled heavenly of strawberries and melon, sometimes banana! When we tore down the old house, we had an excavator dig up the large plant and move it to another part of our yard....where it languished in somewhat declining form for a few years. We moved to Easton Md. bringing with us a much smaller portion of the shrub bush. This new portion was only large enough to fit into a child's bucket, yet in the last two years it is thriving once again. Looks and smells wonderful. It is over 6 ft. tall. I'll trim it to a somewhat more manageable size. It is once again planted on the eastern side of our home.
My sister in law bought an Allspice from a nursery and was very disappointed to find the blossoms without any fragrance and even worse this look alike impostor set out runners into her neighbors yard!
I have a Sweet Shrub in my backyard from the home where I grew up. (Grew up and live in Upper East TN). I got a 2' "stick" 8 yrs ago from that home and it is now about 8' tall and doing wonderfully well. Maroon flowers with the strawberry aroma. Not real invasive but does multiply. This is from stock that is 60+ years old. Wouldn't trade it for anything! Is in full sun most of the day and is partially shaded by a pine tree. It only gets watered when it rains. Would recommend this plant to anyone who wants an old fashioned plant with a lovely scent.
On Jul 20, 2009, Jo_Ann610 from Norristown, PA (Zone 6b) wrote:
This plant was growing in full sun in the back yard of the house I bought in Norristown, PA in 2003. It has done very well, considering most sources say it should grow in partial to full shade. I do love the smell of the flowers.
8b Santa Rosa County, FL
I bought this shrub online. When it arrived 3 yrs ago it was two "bare sticks" in a pot about 2 feet tall. I planted it where it receives the morning and mid afternoon sun and shade in the late afternoon and evening. It did well for the first 1 1/2 yrs, grew to about 4 feet and leafed out well. Then a worker accidentally drug a large hose over it and snapped off the top half of the plant This year it grew back again but still has not bloomed. I am afraid it is getting too much exposure to our NW Florida sun as the leaf tips are brown, curled, and easily crumble in my hand by mid summer even though they get a fair amount of water. I am going to transplant it to a shady location this Fall to see if that will help.
On Apr 6, 2008, dee_cee from Birmingham, AL (Zone 7b) wrote:
My grandmother had one of these at the side of her house when I was a kid & I always loved the smell. I was delighted to discover one growing in my back yard among a clump of althea when I bought this place a few years ago. I cut the althea back to give it room & it has gotten bigger & produces more flowers each year.
On Nov 24, 2007, kristywins from Raleigh, NC wrote:
Re: Poisonous plant claim
I just wanted to note that someone has commented that this plant is poisonous and that is only partially true. Once upon a time the bark of this plant was used as a spice and may still be done safely since the only poisonous part of the plant is the seed - and then only if taken in large quantities.
On Feb 6, 2006, dirtybirdie from Union City, TN wrote:
I have a Sweet Shrub growing in my front yard. It was planted in 1942 & still going strong. I let it get quiet big, about 25 feet around , then trim it back a bit. My front yard joins the hiway & this shrub is really an attention getter. Have had many quirys about it. It's in full sun & fairly hard dirt, so guess they would survive about anywhere.
On Dec 30, 2005, escambiaguy from Atmore, AL (Zone 8b) wrote:
My great grandmother used to live on the same land that I do today and while she died before I was born, my mom has told me stories about about how she would wrap the blooms in a hankerchief and take them to church with her. She would smell them while sitting in church. It is a very long lived plant. Mine is over 40 years old. The only negative comment about the plant is that it spreads like crazy. I have to constantly prune the suckers. If left alone you will have a yard full of sweetshrub.
I relocated from New York to SC some 15 years ago. In our yard off the back deck was a shrub, which my grand mother, who was a native to this area, called a "Sweet Bubby Bush".
She said that in her youth, she learned that she could use the flowers from this shrub as a sachet in her clothing drawers, which was common practice of young women in this area in the 1920's and 30's.
The Sweet Bubby Bush has a wonderful fragrance, and is a hardy shrub to grow in Spartanburg SC. We once transplanted this 7 foot shrub, and it survived, and continues to flourish in it's new location.
On Oct 20, 2004, carrieebryan from Independence, MO (Zone 6a) wrote:
My parents' house in College Park, MD had this and also I grew it in West Allis, WI. We called it "applesauce bush" because it smells exactly like warm cinnamon-flavored applesauce. In my 30-year plan I intend to add it to my garden in Independence, MO and am looking forward to it eagerly!
On Sep 27, 2004, WendyAloha from Beaverton, OR wrote:
I have just purchased my first Sweet Betsy bush and am hoping for a happy shrub here in Oregon. I was inspired by my father-in-law who reminisced so charmingly about young girls carrying the buds (I'm not sure if by that he meant the flowers or the seed pods, since both are supposed to be fragrant) in their handkerchiefs tucked in a warm spot (I'll bet that's why it's called 'bubby bush' or 'bosom bush') as a substitute for the perfume they couldn't afford or weren't allowed to wear back in Depression-era North Carolina. I'm dying for a whiff, so hope it is happy on my north facing wooded hillside!
On Jun 18, 2004, Charleen43 from Claremont, NH wrote:
We just cut down an old rotting non-blooming lilac in our back yard and discovered this plant in full bloom hiding amongst the "runners" of the lilac tree. What a surpise! We only moved into this house last Christmas so we had no clue what was growing around the house until this spring when all the snow was gone. I asked several of my sibling "master" gardeners and my Mom who knows every plant from New England just about and she had never seen or smelt anything like it...nor had anyone else. Tomorrow I was going to take a slip of it to the local nursery, BUT today I was thumbing through my shade gardening books and there was the allspice shrub staring me in the face. Again, Wow what a surprise and what a specimen.
Right now it is in full sun (all day sun) and from my readings it states it does best in shade - before we cut down the tree it was hidden in the shade by the dead lilac.
On May 29, 2004, spaceman_spiff from Saint Petersburg, FL (Zone 9b) wrote:
I have also heard the name "bubby" associated with this plant. My grandmother had one in her yard in Boone County, West Virginia, and always called it a "bubby rose." My aunt there had one, too, and I have seen it in several places in that area of West Virginia.
A few years ago I ordered one in the mail from a nursery in the Carolinas and planted it in my yard in St. Petersburg, FL, since the nursery catalog said it was zoned for as far south as Zone 9. It grew successfully for a couple of years, and right about when it bloomed for the first time, I sold the house and moved. I divided a couple of rooted sections to bring with me to my new house, but it failed to grow successfully. After 3 or so years of appearing very sick-looking (and never blooming), it finally died. I decided to order another larger plant, which has been in my garden for about 2 months. It bloomed shortly after I planted it, and had many flowers, but I was very disappointed that the flowers had NO fragrance at all! The odor was the main reason I wanted it. I'm concerned that the leaves are not getting as big as I remember, so I'm wondering whether it dislikes the soil in my garden. But I'm especially disappointed about the lack of odor, and am wondering if this is a result of the soil as well. The nursery catalog touted the fragrance as a noted point of the plant, so I would expect that they would have sent me a fragrant variety.
On May 13, 2004, mommas_angels from Elizabethton, TN wrote:
I live in the tri-cities area of Northeast Tennessee, this plant is not only known as the sweet shrub bush, it is also called "bubby bush". I was introduced to this plant by my mother-in-law. My brother-in-law gave me 2 starts of this bush and when ever I move I always take 2 starts of this plant with me. No, I have not moved across state lines with it and I would be completely devastated if ever I had to leave it behind. I enjoy the fragrance that blows into my home each spring and early summer as it blooms. I feel that everyone who enjoys the sweet smell of cinnamon.
On Jun 2, 2003, patp from Summerville, SC (Zone 8a) wrote:
I know this plant as Carolina allspice; other names are sweetshrub and strawberry shrub. Grows vigorously in shade or semi-shade. Soil ranges from acid to neutral. Native in rich moist woodlands; colonizes to form thickets. Grows 6-8 ft high. It's been called 'bosom' plant because the lady of the house would pluck the blossoms to put in her bosom when going out on the town.
On Jan 10, 2003, lupinelover from Grove City, OH (Zone 6a) wrote:
Although this shrub is very easily started from seed, the fragrance varies from slight to heavy from seed-grown plants. The best way to ensure you get one that is nicely fragrant is to get a rooted cutting or sucker from a known plant.
On Jul 19, 2001, darius from So.App.Mtns. United States (Zone 5b) wrote:
Sweet shrub grows 6-9' tall x 6-12' spread, often by suckers (which transplant easily). Flowers in May-June, with reddish-maroon flowers, but some var. have chartreuse flowers, and some have white flowers. The native shrubs found in the Smokey Mountains have reddish-maroon flowers. The bark was widely used in the mountains as a substitute for allspice.
The attractive seed pods are about 2" long, roughly shaped like a tear drop, with vertical ridged sides.
On Jul 19, 2001, tiG from Newnan, GA (Zone 8a) wrote:
Seeds may be sown in containers of sandy loam in March or April. Plants may be divided in the spring. Cuttings can also be taken in July and inserted in sandy soil in a propagating case in a greenhouse or frame.
These hardy, vigorous-growing, deciduous shrubs are found wild in the United States
This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:
, Atmore, Alabama Bessemer, Alabama Birmingham, Alabama Gardendale, Alabama Hazel Green, Alabama Huntsville, Alabama Indian Springs Village, Alabama Jones, Alabama Mobile, Alabama Perote, Alabama Saint Florian, Alabama Little Rock, Arkansas Morrilton, Arkansas Eureka, California Fullerton, California Stockton, California Tulare, California Denver, Colorado New Haven, Connecticut Cantonment, Florida Fountain, Florida Jacksonville, Florida Jay, Florida Melrose Park, Florida Mount Dora, Florida Aldora, Georgia Braselton, Georgia Candler-macafee, Georgia Dalton, Georgia Druid Hills, Georgia Ellabell, Georgia Fitzgerald, Georgia Hoboken, Georgia Marietta, Georgia Peachtree City, Georgia Rome, Georgia (2 reports) Villa Rica, Georgia Machesney Park, Illinois Waukegan, Illinois Galena, Indiana Barbourville, Kentucky Clermont, Kentucky Georgetown, Kentucky Lexington, Kentucky Louisville, Kentucky Parkway Village, Kentucky Jarreau, Louisiana Zachary, Louisiana Millersville, Maryland Pelham, Massachusetts Wrentham, Massachusetts Remus, Michigan Albany, Minnesota Lucedale, Mississippi Magnolia, Mississippi Mathiston, Mississippi Ava, Missouri Goodman, Missouri Helena, Montana Omaha, Nebraska Claremont, New Hampshire Greenfield, New Hampshire Bridgeton, New Jersey Cedar Glen Lakes, New Jersey , New York Fairport, New York Himrod, New York Syracuse, New York Warwick, New York Asheville, North Carolina Balfour, North Carolina Battleboro, North Carolina Beargrass, North Carolina Beaufort, North Carolina Belmont, North Carolina Charlotte, North Carolina Elizabeth City, North Carolina Mountain View, North Carolina Nebo, North Carolina Parkton, North Carolina Raleigh, North Carolina Trinity, North Carolina Whispering Pines, North Carolina Columbus, Ohio Broken Arrow, Oklahoma Harrah, Oklahoma Tangent, Oregon Apollo, Pennsylvania East Norriton, Pennsylvania (2 reports) Emmaus, Pennsylvania Glenmoore, Pennsylvania Laflin, Pennsylvania Sharon, Pennsylvania West Brownsville, Pennsylvania Woonsocket, Rhode Island Centerville, South Carolina Charleston, South Carolina Columbia, South Carolina Conway, South Carolina India Hook, South Carolina North Augusta, South Carolina Okatie, South Carolina Spartanburg, South Carolina Summerville, South Carolina Church Hill, Tennessee Elizabethton, Tennessee Fairmount, Tennessee Greenback, Tennessee Hendersonville, Tennessee Ooltewah, Tennessee Spurgeon, Tennessee Toone, Tennessee Austin, Texas Belton, Texas Pecan Grove, Texas Tyler, Texas Nibley, Utah Aquia Harbour, Virginia Arlington, Virginia (2 reports) Callao, Virginia Dublin, Virginia Galax, Virginia Hurt, Virginia Leesburg, Virginia Lexington, Virginia Mechanicsville, Virginia Suffolk, Virginia Woodbridge, Virginia Hazel Dell North, Washington