Calycanthus occidentalis grows in the northern Coast Range, the southern Cascades Range, and the western Sierra Nevada. It is ecologically similar to C . f loridus ; it consistently differs from that taxon in a number of vegetative and floral characteristics. Because of an apparent lack of hardiness, C . occidentalis is cultivated less often than C . floridus .
Some American Indians used scraped bark of Calycanthus occidentalis medicinally in treating severe colds (D. E. Moerman 1986).