Chimonanthus praecox

Family: Calycanthaceae

It is likely you caught the scent of this plant before you spotted it. Also known as Wintersweet, Chimonanthus praecox is a strongly perfumed shrub native to China, and it looks its best at this time of year. Notice how delicate the flowers are and their unusual texture. The long outer tepals are yellow and waxy while the shorter inner tepals are patterned purple and white. These flowers, and the bright round buds they grow from, appear in winter before the leaves do. This plant is truly stimulating for the senses, not only for us but deliberately so for its pollinators.

There are few pollinators around at this time of year but Chimonanthus praecox’s heady scent and vibrant flowers guide the early emerging flies, hoverflies and bees towards it, ensuring the flower’s pollination and development of fruit and seeds.

As you walk around the Garden your nose will pick up the scent of more Chimonanthus praecox shrubs dotted here and there. Can you spot them?

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Heralding Spring Trail Map