Lindera benzoin - SPICEBUSH

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A common shrub in moist eastern woods, one of the first native shrubs to bloom.

Conspicuous during the spring blooming period – clusters of yellowish flowers appear on bare branches! With coming season, spicebush seems to blend in until the end of early fall, when its fruits are ripe, shiny red and supported with first yellow leaves.

All the plant has interesting spice-lemony fragrance, fresh leaves can be used in hot or iced tea (dried don’t retain their flavor well). The twigs can be simmered in water for a warming tea any time of year.

Use dried red berries as a spice that has both sweet and savory uses - the Ojibwa and Iroquois tribes treated spicebush berries as two different seasonings – separated pulp and red skin has sweet, allspice-like taste and the seeds for their peppery bite.

Adaptable and useful shrub, in full sun is shorter and more compact, wider and open in full shade. Spicebush is the host plant for the larval stage of the spicebush swallowtail butterfly (cocoons wrapped within rolled leaves) .

Both male and female plants are required to produce berries on female plants. Since our plants are seed grown, we do not know if they will be male or female.

Good plant for small native bees, flies, source of food for some woodland birds. Genus name honors Johann Linder (1676-1723), a Swedish botanist and physician.

Can be planted in woodland gardens, shady spots, woodland edges, pollinator gardens, herb gardens, along streams or naturalized.

Picture copyright : US Perennials nursery


Blooming time : early to mid spring, small yellowish flowers on bare branches

Size : usually 8’ tall x 5’ wide, it gets taller and wider up to 12’ tall in full deep shade, also more wide and loose

USDA zones : 4 to 9

Culture : prefers dappled sunshine or half-shade, but it is very adaptable to garden soils and will grow in full sun or full shade. Average soils, good garden soil, loam, organic soil, prefers somewhat drained soils (can grow right at the streams, if the soils is gravely).

Moisture Needs : medium, moist

Origin : Eastern United States, see the USDA distribution map. Naturally in rich deciduous woodlands, wooded bluffs, bottomland forests along rivers, wooded slopes

Deer/rabbit resistant : yes/yes

Attracts Butterflies or Pollinators : yes – it is pollinated by small native bees and flies. It is host plant for 3 butterflies - Spicebush Swallowtail, Promethea Moth and Tulip Tree Beauty. The berries are eaten by some upland gamebirds and several woodland songbirds.

Attracts Hummingbirds : no

Pot size : square 3.5'' x 4'' deep pot