Also known as canelo, this evergreen large shrub or small tree is native from Tierra del Fuego to Mexico, and is a member of the Winteraceae, a primitive plant family of tropical trees and shrubs that grow mostly in the Southern Hemisphere. It grows about 25′ in the garden but can reach 66′ in its natural habitat. The branches have fragrant, mahogany red bark and grow horizontally but then droop. The leathery, lanceolate leaves are up to 8″ long, bright green above and whitish below, and have peppery fragrance when crushed. From winter to spring loose terminal umbels of 5-20 white flowers appear. Each flower has red sepals, 5-7 petals, and a jasmine fragrance. The compound fruit is composed of bluish berries that turn glossy black and contain about 15 seeds. Winter’s bark is a good choice for winter, fragrance, and medicinal gardens. The genus name, Drimys, is from the Greek word δρῑμῠ́ς (drīmús) meaning acrid and refers to the taste of the bark. The specific epithet, winteri, honors Captain John Winter (1555–1638), the doctor who was part of Sir France’s Drakes expedition around the world and in 1578 used the bark to cure scurvy. Photo Credit Wikipedia

Type: Flowering, evergreen shrub or small tree

Outstanding Feature: Fragrant bark, leaves, and flowers

Form: Conical

Growth Rate: Moderate

Bloom: Loose umbels of white flowers in winter and early spring

Size: 6-66′ H

Light: Full sun to dappled shade

Soil: Average, medium moist, well-drained, slightly acidic to neutral

Hardiness: Zones 7-9

Care: Prune in late summer or fall to increase bloom

Pests and Diseases: None of significance but root rot can be a problem

Propagation: Seed, semi-hardwood cuttings

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

By Karen