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NC State Extension

JCRA Introduces ‘Hartlage Wine’

'Hartlage Wine' Photo by Robert E. Lyons

‘Hartlage Wine’
Photo by Robert E. Lyons

A plant of interest in the Piedmont garden passed down from one generation to another is the Carolina allspice or sweet Betsy, Calycanthus floridus. So fragrant are the dusky rose-colored blossoms that some older folks claim that young women would hide them in their clothing as perfume.

A new hybrid, ‘Hartlage Wine’, portends to be another Piedmont favorite. Available at local nurseries this fall, x Sinocalycalycanthus raulstonii ‘Hartlage Wine’ is an intergeneric hybrid of Calycanthus floridus and Sinocalycanthus chinensis, the Chinese wax plant. This plant was developed through the efforts of Richard Hartlage while a student at NC State in the early 1990s. The plant’s unusual name reflects the plant’s genetic parentage and the influence of the late horticulture professor J. C. Raulston on Hartlage’s work.

Raulston allspice, as the plant is known, is an outstanding, fast-growing deciduous shrub that performs best in partial shade, although plants will prosper in full sun with adequate water. The flowers, 3 to 4 inches in diameter with maroon outer and white-tinged central petals, are borne at the leaf axils and open just prior to leaf emergence in the spring. Unfortunately, ‘Hartlage Wine’ flowers do not exhibit the heady fragrance of Carolina allspice, but the striking beauty of the blossoms more than makes up for this genetic anomaly.

'Hartlage Wine' Photo by Robert E. Lyons

‘Hartlage Wine’
Photo by Robert E. Lyons

This plant is a vigorous grower and, if left unpruned, will likely reach a height of 6 to 8 feet. To control the height, simply cut back the canes to the ground every few years.

The many desirable characteristics exhibited by this plant made it worthy of recent introduction to the nursery industry by the JC Raulston Arboretum. Inquire about ‘Hartlage Wine” at your local garden center. To learn more, visit jcra.ncsu.edu.

Royce Hardin