Flowering now on the Armstrong campus in front of the Student Recreation Center is Chinese wintersweet, Chimonanthus zhejiangensis, a little know species related to the better known Chimonanthus praecox.
Chinese wintersweet grows into a large multi-stemmed shrub with a fountain-like outline and lustrous dark green leaves. Chinese wintersweet remains evergreen for us and reminds me of Florida leucothoe in habit and texture.
Transparent pale white flowers hang below arching stems beginning in late October. While all wintersweets are supposed to be fragrant, I haven’t detected much aroma from this species.
Native to China, wintersweet has been cultivated in its native land for over 1,000 years. It has been used in medicines, cosmetics, perfumes and to flavor teas. The word chimonanthus means “winter flower” in Greek.