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D Introduced Shrub Unknown Photo: Anil Thakur
Common name: Wintersweet, Japanese allspice
Botanical name: Chimonanthus praecox    Family: Calycanthaceae (Sweetshrub family)

Wintersweet is a deciduous shrub (or sometimes with persistent leaves), up to 3 m high and wide, up to 13 m tall in the wild, with rough, opposite, dark green leaves, 5-29 cm long and 2-12 cm broad. The plant blooms with small, solitary, highly scented, yellowish flowers borne on short stalks in winter and spring before the leaves appear. The outer tepals are waxy, almost transparent, in appearance, while the inner tepals are smaller and usually purplish. The flowers are beetle-pollinated. Owing to its sweetly fragrant flowers, wintersweet is one of the most popularly planted ornamentals in temperate China, and is widely cultivated in temperate areas elsewhere. Wintersweet is native to China, where it occurs in mountain forests, at altitudes of 500-1100 m.
Medicinal uses: The flowers are used as a folk medicine in China for treating measles, coughs, tonsillitis and pharyngitis. Much scientific research has been undertaken, especially in China, on the medicinal (especially anti-fungal) properties of Chimonanthus praecox.

Identification credit: Anil Thakur Photographed in Shimla.

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