Chimonanthus (wintersweet) is a genus of flowering plants in the family Calycanthaceae, endemic to China. It is also grown in Iran, called "ice flower" and probably imported from China. The genus includes three to six species depending on taxonomic interpretation; three are accepted by the Draft Flora of China. The name means winter flower in Greek.
They are deciduous or evergreen shrubs growing to 2–13 m tall. The leaves are opposite, entire, 7–20 cm long and 3–7 cm broad. The flowers are 2–3 cm wide, with numerous spirally-arranged yellow or white sepals; they are strongly scented, and produced in late winter or early spring before the new leaves. The fruit is an elliptic dry capsule 3–4 cm long.
Wintersweet flowers are an unexpected delight. The Chimonanthus spends most of the year unnoticed and minding its own business, but when January rolls around, it lets loose a barrage of flowers that are delicate in appearance but which arguably carry the best scent of any flower, anywhere. You have not lived, until you have cozied up to Wintersweet and taken a big whiff.
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. 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. Its essential oils are used in cosmetics, perfumery and aromatherapy. The flowers are used to flavour herbal teas, and are also added to potpourri mixtures. In China, wintersweet has long been used to scent linen, in the way that lavender has been used elsewhere.
Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally. The flowers and flower buds contain 0.5 - 0.6%.essential oils comprising benzylalcohol, benzyl acetate, linalool, terpineol and indole. They are sialagogue. The flowers are used in the treatment of thirst and depression whilst the essential oil is used to treat colds. The leaves and roots can be used in the treatment of contusions, cuts, haemorrhages, strains, lumbago, rheumatism, numbness and colds.