Calycanthus floridus seed
Calycanthus plants are deciduous shrubs, growing 1–4 metres (3.3–13.1 ft) tall and wide. The bright green leaves are opposite, entire, 5–15 centimetres (2.0–5.9 in) long and 2–6 centimetres (0.79–2.36 in) broad.
The bark has a strong camphor smell that is released when stems are scraped. The smell remains strong on twigs that have been stored several years in a dry environment.
The strongly scented flowers are produced from late spring through early autumn for Calycanthus occidentalis, and April to July for Calycanthus floridus. They are 4–7 centimetres (1.6–2.8 in) broad, with numerous dark red to burgundy to purplish brown tepals. Typical of the Calycanthaceae family, the flowers lack distinct sepals and petals, but instead have distinct spirals of tepals.
The lotus-shaped flowers can resemble a small magnolia. They are pollinated by beetles in the Nitidulidae family.
The fruit is an elliptic dry capsule 5–7 cm long, containing numerous seeds.