The female plants produce fragrant yellow flowers in early spring, followed by small, bright-red oval fruit in autumn. 21 September, 2017. The shrub is valued not only for its scent, but for the emerald green leaves which, with enough sunlight, turn a lovely shade of yellow in autumn. In sunny conditions may need to prune to encourage attractive branching. Adult Spicebush Swallowtail butterflies feed on nectar from Japanese honeysuckle, jewelweed, thistles, milkweed, azalea, dogbane, lantana, mimosa, and sweet pepperbush. It passes by quite unnoticed along many a hiking trail or watershed. Plants have a broad, multibranched, rounded form Spicebush is available from nurseries specializing in native plants. Plant spicebush in moist, well-drained soil. Scratch a twig with your fingernail or squeeze a berry between your fingers and you will smell the lemony tartness exuding out of the plant. Spicebush thrives in full sunlight or partial shade. Spicebush does not require heavy pruning, and pruning is usually only for aesthetic reasons and to help it maintain its shape. Host Plant Flowers and Fruit The flowers of the spicebush appear early in the spring (March or early April) prior to the emergence of the leaves. The plants are usually dio ecious, which means that staminate (male) and pistillate (female) flowers occur on separate individuals. Spicebush, northern spicebush, Benjaminbush Plant Type Deciduous shrub Mature Size 6-12 feet tall Sun Exposure Full sun to partial sun Soil Type Moist, well-draining Soil pH 5.0-8.0 Bloom Time Early spring Flower Color Yellow Hardiness Zones 4-9 Growing a spicebush in your garden isn’t difficult if you live in USDA plant hardiness zones 4 through 9. Learn tips for creating your most beautiful (and bountiful) garden ever. My professor broke one of the twigs and had us breathe in the lemony aroma. The spicebush is a common shrub in forest areas with deer, since deer won't eat the fragrant plant. Louisiana Plant ID is an online resource for images and descrptions of Louisiana plants and ecosystems. Spicebush Lindera benzoin Laurel family (Lauraceae) Description: This woody shrub is about 5-15' tall and much branched. The tiny yellow flowers are relatively insignificant, but they make an attractive display when the tree is in full bloom. Spicebush is a host plant for spicebush swallowtail butterflies whose larvae feed on it. Collect the small red fruits in early Autumn when they are bright red. Shipped in tree-pots (not bare-root). Spicebush is native to the Americas and is hardy in USDA zones 4-9. It is the preferred food for the black and blue spicebush swallowtail butterfly larvae. Spicebush should be fertilized twice during each growing season. Spicebush flowers in the early spring well before emergence of its leaves. It’s an excellent, low maintenance plant for a permaculture garden, but if you’re going to plant it, we should probably talk about sex. Sign up for our newsletter. Its berries have a mild allspice flavor, and when dried and crushed its bark can pass for a mild cinnamon substitute. Find more gardening information on Gardening Know How: Keep up to date with all that's happening in and around the garden. Spicebush grows to 10 feet tall, with pretty, teardrop-shaped leaves 2 to 5 inches long. Fertilize in the early spring and then again in midsummer. When it's not in bloom, the leaves of spicebush are deep green in the summer months, and golden-yellow in the fall months. Plant Profiles: Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) by Alana McKean in Plant Profiles - Henry "Weeds" Eilers on November 18, 2020 0-Henry “Weeds” Eilers Peak fall color. Spicebush is dioecious, meaning male and female flowers are present on separate plants. Fertilize spicebush in spring using a balanced, granular fertilizer with an NPK ratio such as 10-10-10. This is another wonderful American native shrub. As its name suggests, spicebush leaves and twigs give off a spicy fragrance and flavor when crushed. Plant Name: Spicebush (Lindera Benzoin) Quick Info: Plant is 1-2′ tall. spicebush The spicy, citrusy aroma of this versatile understory shrub is enchanting, and the leaves and twigs make a pleasant tea. In nature, spicebush is an understory plant. Planting it in masses or with a dark background will show the spring flowers better. You can plant this shrub in most locations since it can handle full sun to full shade. Native to the eastern parts of North America and Canada, spicebush (Lindera benzoin) is an aromatic shrub often found growing wild in swampy woodlands, forests, valleys, ravines and riparian areas. What is spicebush? Historically Native Americans used the fruits of the northern Spicebush grows best in full sun to partial shade conditions. NABA member Lenora Larson has graciously allowed us to reprint it here. Native people used spicebush to ease colds, cough, fever, and measles. Northern spicebush is a shrub found growing across the eastern United States. Over 20 species of birds including both gamebirds and song birds such as ring-necked pheasant, bobwhite, ruffed grouse and others have been known to feed on spicebush. Caterpillars of the spicebush swallowtail butterfly (Papilio troilus) use this species for food. Noteworthy CharacteristicsAromatic foliage, showy fruit, good autumn color. Spicebush will grow to be about 10 feet tall at maturity, with a spread of 10 feet. Foliage, Flowers, and Fruit The leaves bear a pleasant scent and are the inspiration for the name spicebush. The spiciness of this plant is one of its identifiers. The flowers of the female plants beget fragrant fruits, ripening from July through early October to a glossy red. This native shrub is eye-catching and low-maintenance. It likes partial shade and in its natural habitat grows as an understory plant, beneath deciduous trees and larger shrubs. Spicebush swallowtails are not considered to be a pest to the spicebush, which is actually very resilient to pests. Spicebush is a good choice for a butterfly garden, as it is the preferred food source for several butterflies, including black and blue spicebush swallowtail butterflies. The green caterpillars have large, black, fake "eye" markings that scare away predators. You must act quickly, as birds love to eat all the fruits. It is most often planted near the back of the shrub boarder or as a foundation planting. It transplants poorly and is best planted in the garden from container-grown plants. There are at least three cultivators of spicebush that have been developed, although they are not widely available for purchase. Images are provided in galleries and are available by common name, scientific name, family, ecosystem, and wetland indicator status. It can add interest to a mixed hedgerow and be effectively massed in the understory of shade trees. Flowers in the spring, swallowtail butterflies in the summer and plump red berries in the fall are some of its most eye-catching features. It is widely considered to be an adaptable shrub and can tolerate a wide range of moisture conditions including short periods of dry soil or very wet soil. How to grow Lindera (Spicebush) Latin Name Pronunciation: lin-dare’uh This genus is comprised of around 80 species of trees and shrubs known for their aromatic leaves, star-shaped flowers, and colorful fall foliage. Because it’s so adaptable, you can plant spicebush in either alkaline or acid soil, or in full sun to shade, or in sites that are anywhere from occasionally wet to occasionally dry. Let’s explore how to grow spicebush.  The species are shrubs and small trees; common names include spicewood, spicebush, and Benjamin bush. Spicebush Plant Bring Swallowtails to Your Yard This multi-season beauty is lovely to look at and produces a luscious spicy scent that attracts Swallowtail butterflies by the droves. Our native spicebush (Lindera benzoin) is a plant that greatly exceeds expectations. Native to the low woods, stream banks, and wetlands of the eastern United States and Canada, spicebush (Lindera benzoin) is an easy-to-grow, deciduous shrub in the Lauraceae family. Plant males and females to insure fruit set. As the name suggests, the plant’s most distinctive feature is the spicy aroma that perfumes the air whenever a leaf or twig is crushed. Grow in moderate, medium wet, well-drained soil. Harvest the berries in the late summer or fall once they have turned red and remove the seed from inside. The ideal situation, however, would be a site in partial shade with loamy, well-drained soil that is only occasionally wet or dry, and is in the pH range of 5.0 to 8.0. With sweetly aromatic foliage that turns yellow in the fall, this plant is a good choice … Softwood cuttings need high humidity in order to sprout roots, so keep the newly potted softwood cutting in a plastic bag to create a humid environment until roots develop. Spicebush, named for its spicy, fragrant leaves and stems, is native to moist woodlands in the Midwest and occasionally occur in the Chicago area. Spicebush leaves reach for the sky in a striking, characteristic fashion in spring. While it can technically survive in full shade as well, the growth habit will become more open and ‘leggy’ which may be considered as less aesthetically pleasing by some. it is easy to grow new plants. White-tail deer, rabbits, opossums, and a variety of small rodents readily eat the aromatic leaves and woody parts of this plant. It grows rapidly in wet conditions and tolerates humid conditions more readily than overly dry conditions. Tiny yellow blooms nestle into light green foliage in the spring and summer. Spicebush is a fun plant to know about—a living scratch and sniff! Because the plants may be either male or female, a grouping of three to five seed-grown specimens is recommended to ensure berry formation. Tolerates full shade, but habit becomes more open and wide-spreading. Native Plant Profile: Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) April 23, 2019 Spicebush; by Bill Hubick I vividly remember my first experience with spicebush (Lindera benzoin) in undergrad. Although it can be grown from seed with relative ease, Spicebush is not as easily propagated otherwise. This is the host plant to the elegant Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly (pictured above in both it’s forms). As a 'facultative wetland plant' (which means that it mostly occurs in wetlands) spicebush thrives in moist-well draining soils. Used to make essential oils and fragrant sachets, northern spicebush also provides food for over 20 species of birds. Lindera spicebush care in the garden isn’t at all difficult to achieve when the plant is given suitable growing conditions. This plant also supports Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus) larvae which have 2 generations per year from April-October. This is one of its nicest times of year with that wonderful clear yellow fall color. Prune after flowering, if needed, to maintain the desired size and shape. The best time to take softwood cuttings for spicewood propagation is in the late summer or fall. They used all parts of the plant interchangeably as compresses (external applications of cloth soaked in tea Lindera is a genus of about 80-100 species of flowering plants in the family Lauraceae, mostly native to eastern Asia but with three species in eastern North America. Prune after flowering, if needed, to maintain the desired size and shape. Spicebush would make a great specimen plant near the house for its scent, and bright yellow fall color. In order to grow Spicebush from seed, you need to locate a mature berry producing plant first. It can be successfully propagated by softwood cuttings, although a successful propagation can be difficult. Use a fertilizer that is specifically formulated for deciduous shrubs for best results. 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Once you have some seed, follow the process below for germinating Spicebush seeds. The central trunk (if present) and larger branches are rather slender; their bark is brown, shiny, and sparsely covered with small white lenticels. Its yellow flowers are followed on the female bushes by red berries that birds love. It is adaptable to a wide range of growing conditions and is low-maintenance once it is established. Despite this, spicebush is not widely commercially available and has no known commercial uses. In early spring, aromatic, yellow-green flowers adorn its multiple stems, which has given the spicebush the nickname, "forsythia of the wilds." Tolerates full shade, but habit becomes more open. It tolerates both alkaline and acidic soils well. It has a low canopy with a typical clearance of 2 feet from the ground, and is suitable for planting under power lines. Externally, they used oil from the pressed berries to ease the pain of arthritis. Spicebush is a deciduous shrub that grows six to ten feet high. Many animals feed on the leaves, twigs, and berries of spicebush. Also commonly known as northern spicebush and Benjaminbush, spicebush is an aromatic shrub that has interest almost year-round. However, berries develop only on female plants, which won’t occur without a male pollinator. The berries are a favorite food of wood thrushs. There’s nothing insignificant about the showy berries, which are glossy and bright red (and loved by birds). Culture Easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soils in full sun to part shade. Spicebush thrives in full sunlight or partial shade. Cori is a freelance writer based out of Ontario, Canada, who specializes in houseplants and houseplant care. How to Grow and Care for Black Huckleberries, How to Grow and Care for the Carolina Rose, How to Grow and Care for Alligator Juniper, How to Grow Salvia leucantha (Mexican Bush Sage). Larval host plant for Swallowtail butterflies. These tiny blooms attract many species of butterflies. In fact, spicebush was traditionally used by Native Americans as a medicinal tea. It originally appeared in Vol 12: No.3, Fall 2007. Spicebush. It is accustomed to cold winters, warm springs, and mild to hot summers - although thanks to its adaptable nature it can tolerate a wide range of conditions. Sign up to get all the latest gardening tips! Use a rooting hormone for best results, and plant the cutting in a moistened mixture of perlite and soilless mix. It is most often used in landscapes in shrub borders and naturalized areas. Spicebush becomes a large, 5- to 8-foot-tall shrub that is slightly wider than tall. Bright red fruits ripen from July through October on female plants, but are only showy once the foliage falls off. The best time to prune spicebush is after the shrub has finished flowering in the spring. Host plant for The entire plant is aromatic. Learn how to grow spicebush in your garden and enjoy this showy shrub all year long. The blooms attract bees and other beneficial insects. Spicebush is known by a variety of names, including spicewood, wild allspice, snap-bush, feverwood, and Benjamin bush. Plants do best in good soil with medium shade. By: Mary H. Dyer, Credentialed Garden Writer. A relatively large shrub, spicebush reaches heights of 6 to 12 feet (1.8 to 3.6 m.) at maturity, with a similar spread. Spicebush is dioecious, which means that male and female flowers are on separate plants. Fall color is best in sunny areas. Germination will occur in the spring of the following year. Fresh seeds are best when it comes to growing spicebush from seed. Spicebush Swallowtail host plant. Caterpillar Food Plant: Spicebush The following article originally appeared in Butterfly Gardener, a NABA publication for members. Some mammals include whitetail deer, Eastern cottontail rabbit, opossums. During the first growing season, spicebush should be watered regularly to help it establish a strong root system. Plant spicebush in masses, in shady sites and to support and encourage wildlife. Fertilize spicebush in spring using a balanced, granular fertilizer with an NPK ratio such as 10-10-10. Plant spicebush in moist, well-drained soil. Fortunately, the berries that adorn the female plants contain its seeds, so if you have a female spicebush (or know someone that does!) Introducing "One Thing": A New Video Series, The Spruce Gardening & Plant Care Review Board, The Spruce Renovations and Repair Review Board, Spicebush, northern spicebush, Benjaminbush. Male spicebush grows clusters of yellow-green flowers in the spring, whereas the female spicebush can be identified by the bright red berries that adorn the bush in the late summer months. It grows best in part shade, and you’ll find it under beeches, oaks, and maples. Place at least one male plant among females for fruiting. The berries are especially noticeable after the leaves drop in fall. Once established, spicebush usually does not require extra watering outside of the regular rainfall in its growing zones.
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