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Spicebush Lindera benzoin

Other Common Name(s):

Other plants called Spicebush:

Phonetic Spelling
lin-DER-ah BEN-zo-een
Description

Spicebush is a deciduous shrub that may grow to 8 to 15 feet that can be found in rich forests, dry forests on slopes, and swamps. The leaves are alternate with a smooth margin. Leaves produce a spicy odor when crushed. The bark is brown to gray-brown and speckled with light colored lenticels. In early spring, small, yellow flowers mature in axillary clusters. The shrub produces a bright red drupe with a peppery taste and scent. The fruit matures in the fall. This plant is sensitive to heat and drought. This plant is dieocious, which means female fruit sets need male pollinator plants to reproduce. This plant has good, yellow fall color.

Fire Risk: This plant has a low flammability rating.

Play Value: Wildlife Enhancement 

Notes: Dioecious, so need a male and a female plant. 

Seed: Drupe

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Rubra'
  • 'Xanthocarpa'
'Rubra', 'Xanthocarpa'
Tags:
#fragrant#deciduous#small tree#rain garden#fragrant flowers#wildlife plant#showy#fragrant leaves#native shrub#winter interest#fall interest#playground#hedges#wet sites#low flammability#NC native#children's garden#fire resistant#edible fruits#larval host plant#food source fall#food source herbage#Piedmont Mountains FAC#Coastal FACW#fruits#bird friendly#mammals#food source soft mast fruit#butterfly friendly#butterfly larvae#audubon
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
  • 'Rubra'
  • 'Xanthocarpa'
'Rubra', 'Xanthocarpa'
Tags:
#fragrant#deciduous#small tree#rain garden#fragrant flowers#wildlife plant#showy#fragrant leaves#native shrub#winter interest#fall interest#playground#hedges#wet sites#low flammability#NC native#children's garden#fire resistant#edible fruits#larval host plant#food source fall#food source herbage#Piedmont Mountains FAC#Coastal FACW#fruits#bird friendly#mammals#food source soft mast fruit#butterfly friendly#butterfly larvae#audubon
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Lindera
    Species:
    benzoin
    Family:
    Lauraceae
    Uses (Ethnobotany):
    Essential oils from this plants leaves, twigs, and fruits, have been used in teas. The fragrant fruits are sometimes dried and used in sachets. Native Americans have been known to use the dried fruits of this plant as a spice, and the leaves of this plant for tea.
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    South East Canada to Central & Eastern U.S.A
    Fire Risk Rating:
    low flammability
    Wildlife Value:
    Host plant for the Spicebush Swallowtail butterfly. Fruits are eaten by songbirds, especially during fall migration. White-tailed deer will browse twigs and leaves.
    Play Value:
    Attracts Pollinators
    Edible fruit
    Fragrance
    Wildlife Food Source
    Wildlife Nesting
    Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems):
    fire in the landscape.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 8 ft. 0 in. - 15 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 6 ft. 0 in. - 15 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Native Plant
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Rounded
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Drainage:
    Moist
    Occasional Flooding
    Occasionally Dry
    Occasionally Wet
    Very Dry
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5a, 5b, 6b, 6a, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9b, 9a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Red/Burgundy
    Fruit Value To Gardener:
    Edible
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Summer
    Fruit Type:
    Drupe
    Fruit Description:
    A drupe, shiny greenish yellow spicily fragrant flowers in late winter; scarlet red spicy scented fruit in late Summer/early Fall (August-September)
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Flower Description:
    The Spice bush has clusters of tiny, apetalous, aromatic, greenish-yellow flowers that bloom along the branches in early spring before the foliage emerges (March-April). It has dioecious (male and female flowers on separate plants), with the male flowers being larger and showier than the female ones. The flowers of female plants give way to bright red drupes (to 1/2" long) which mature in fall and are attractive to birds. Female plants need a male pollinator in order to set fruit (scarlet red), however. It's drupes are very attractive, but are largely hidden by the foliage until the leaves drop.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Green
    Leaf Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Gold/Yellow
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Description:
    The Spice bush has thick, alternate, oblong-obovate, light green leaves (to 5" long) turn an attractive yellow in autumn. Leaves are aromatic (spicy fragrance) when crushed.
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Brown
    Light Gray
  • Stem:
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    Yes
    Stem Lenticels:
    Conspicuous
    Stem Description:
    Has a spicy fragrance
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Recreational Play Area
    Woodland
    Landscape Theme:
    Children's Garden
    Edible Garden
    Native Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Rain Garden
    Winter Garden
    Design Feature:
    Hedge
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Fire
    Wet Soil