A very small family, of only two genera, one North American, one Japanese; aromatic shrubs, with opposite, toothless leaves, with short leaf-stalks, without stipules; flowers large, solitary, at the ends of leafy branches; seprds, petals, and stamens, indefinite in number, in many, overlapping series, passing one into the other, so that one cannot tell which is which, and all borne on the receptacle, which is hollow, resembling a rose-hip, almost enclosing the numerous pistils; stamens short, the inner ones without anthers; receptacle becoming a large, leathery, oblong or pear-shaped fruit, containing few or many, smooth, shining akenes.

There are three kinds of Calycanthus in this country, two of them eastern; flowers purple or red, stamens inserted in several rows.