|Monday Melange: Spicebush|
|Written by Heleigh Bostwick Monday, 15 October 2012|
Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) is a shrub native to the eastern half of the US, its range extending as far west as Missouri and Texas. A member of the laurel family (Lauraceae) family, spicebush is hardy between USDA zones 4 and 9. The edible fruits, leaves, twigs, and buds have a pleasant spicy smell and taste when crushed or eaten. The fruits when dried and crushed can be substituted for allspice and the young leaves and twigs, as well as fruits can be made onto a tea.
Spicebush blooms in March. The tiny yet fragrant greenish-yellow flowers are somewhat inconspicuous but because they are profuse, can be quite showy. The scarlet red fruits appear in the fall. Spicebush is an excellent shrub for attracting birds and butterflies, including the larva (caterpillar stage) of the spicebush swallowtail butterfly that feeds on the leaves. Use spicebush in naturalized woodland plantings, in shrub borders as a hedge, ravines or slopes, or anywhere that soils are moist.
Spicebush is a multi-stemmed shrub with rounded habit that grows between 6 and 12 feet high. It is a low maintenance plant and propagated by seed or transplanted from container stock and prefers full to partial sun and moist soils. Growing spicebush in full sun ensures a spectacular autumn display of yellow color. Spicebush is listed as being of special concern in Maine.
Photo source: www.plantatlas.usf.edu, c. Shirley Denton