What is Carolina Allspice?

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  • Written By: Misty Amber Brighton
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 03 August 2019
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Carolina allspice is a thick shrub normally found growing in the Appalachian and Smoky mountain regions of the eastern United States. It is believed to be native to North Carolina. It is characterized by dark green leaves and deep red flowers. These blossoms typically have a mildly spicy fragrance.

There are many names for this garden plant. A few of them are sweet shrub, strawberry shrub, and sweet shade. It might also be called bubbly blossom. It is thought that this name originated due to the fact that women used to place the flowers of this plant inside the bodices of their dresses as a sort of perfume.

This bush can grow to a height of six to 10 feet (1.83 to 3.05 m) high. In many instances, it can grow as wide as it is tall. The plant tends to grow very quickly, so it may need to be supported with a trellis, or placed near a fence or building.

The leaves of a Carolina allspice bush typically have a pointed shape. They are usually around six inches (15.24 cm) long. These leaves are normally dark green on top and a paler green on the underside. During the fall, this foliage may turn yellow just before dropping off the tree.


The reddish-purple flowers of this shrub normally appear in early spring and last throughout the summer. These blooms are approximately two inches (5.08 cm) across. There are multiple layers of petals to each one. Most of the time, these flowers have a very mild fragrance that is said to repel deer and insects.

The blossoms of this shrub normally turn into small, brown fruits which are similar to a pod. These actually contain the plant's seeds. These seed pods may appear in early fall and last throughout the winter.

A Carolina allspice can grow in a variety of soil conditions, ranging from those with a pH of 6.1 to 7.5. It may thrive in partial shade, although it typically prefers full sunlight. This bush does not usually need to be watered unless there is a drought, in which case it can be soaked once or twice a week.

This small tree should not be confused with the actual spice known as allspice, which is used in cooking. The leaves of this tree are, in fact, poisonous to cattle and other livestock. The berries can also be harmful if ingested. For these reasons, a gardener should carefully consider the location when planting a Carolina allspice.



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