Chimonanthus praecox

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Chimonanthus praecox
Frutti Chimonanthus praecox.jpg
蜡梅 or Japanese allspice
Scientific classification edit
Kingdom: Plantae
Clade: Tracheophytes
Clade: Angiosperms
Clade: Magnoliids
Order: Laurales
Family: Calycanthaceae
Genus: Chimonanthus
C. praecox
Binomial name
Chimonanthus praecox
(L.) Link (1822)

Chimonanthus fragrans Lindl.
Chimonanthus parviflorus Raf.
Chimonanthus yunnanensis W.W. Sm.
Butneria praecox (L.) C.K. Schneid.
Chimonanthus praecox L.
Meratia praecox (L.) Rehder & E.H. Wilson
Sources: IPNI,[1] CPN[2] MBG[3]

A&B: flowers; C: foliage; D: hypanthium; E: longitudinal section of hypanthium; F: fruit; G: terminal leaf buds; H: seedling

Chimonanthus praecox, also known as wintersweet or Japanese allspice, is a species of flowering plant in the genus Chimonanthus of the family Calycanthaceae, native to China. The plant is known as làméi (蠟梅) in Chinese, rōbai () in Japanese, and KoreanNab Mae; Hanja납매(蠟梅) in Korean.

It is a vigorous deciduous shrub growing to 4 m (13 ft) tall with an erect trunk and leaves 5–29 cm (2–11 in) long and 2–12 cm (1–5 in) broad. Its strongly scented pendent flowers, produced in winter (between November and March in UK,[4]) on bare stems, have 15-21 yellow or pale green-yellow, tepals, the inner ones usually with purplish red pigments.[5][6][7]

This plant is cultivated in gardens, producing valued flower colour in the dormant season. The cultivars C. praecox 'Grandiflorus'[8] and C. praecox 'Luteus'[9] have gained the Royal Horticultural Society's Award of Garden Merit.

The plant is unrelated to allspice, Pimenta dioica, and not only is the Japanese "allspice" inedible, but its seeds contains a toxic alkaloid called calycanthine. However, an oil prepared from the flowers is used in traditional Chinese medicine.


  1. ^ "Chimonanthus praecox". International Plant Names Index (IPNI). Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Retrieved 2008-06-02.
  2. ^ "Chinese Plant Names". Retrieved 2008-06-02.
  3. ^ "Chimonanthus praecox L." Tropicos. Missouri Botanical Garden. Retrieved 2008-06-02.
  4. ^ Nicholson, B.E.; Wallis, Michael (1963). The Oxford Book of Garden Flowers. London: Oxford University Press. p. viii. ISBN 978-0199100026.
  5. ^ "eFloras - Flora of China - Chimonanthus praecox". Retrieved 5 July 2013.
  6. ^ "Chimonanthus praecox". Germplasm Resources Information Network (GRIN). Agricultural Research Service (ARS), United States Department of Agriculture (USDA). Retrieved 2008-06-02.
  7. ^ RHS A-Z encyclopedia of garden plants. United Kingdom: Dorling Kindersley. 2008. p. 1136. ISBN 1405332964.
  8. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Chimonanthus praecox 'Grandiflorus'". Retrieved 15 April 2020.
  9. ^ "RHS Plant Selector - Chimonanthus praecox 'Luteus'". Retrieved 15 April 2020.

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