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Lindera benzoin (Northern spicebush) | NPIN
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Lindera benzoin (Northern spicebush)
Makin, Julie

Lindera benzoin

Lindera benzoin (L.) Blume

Northern spicebush, Spicebush, Wild allspice

Lauraceae (Laurel Family)

Synonym(s):

USDA Symbol: libe3

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

Northern spicebush is a single- or few-stemmed, deciduous shrub, 6-12 ft. tall, with glossy leaves and graceful, slender, light green branches. Leaves alternate on the branchlets, up to 6 inches long and 2 1/2 inches wide, upper surface dark green, lower surface lighter in color, obovate, tapering more gradually to the base than to the tip, tip somewhat extended margins without teeth or lobes. Dense clusters of tiny, pale yellow flowers bloom before the leaves from globose buds along the twigs. Flowers occur in umbel-like clusters and are followed by glossy red fruit. Both the fruit and foliage are aromatic. Leaves turn a colorful golden-yellow in fall.

In the North this plant is thought of as the “forsythia of the wilds” because its early spring flowering gives a subtle yellow tinge to many lowland woods where it is common. A tea can be made from the aromatic leaves and twigs.

 

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Size Notes: 6-12
Leaf: Green
Autumn Foliage: yes
Flower:
Fruit: Red
Size Class: 6-12 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Yellow
Bloom Time: Apr

Distribution

USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KS , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MO , MS , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN , TX , VA , VT , WV
Canada: ON , PE
Native Distribution: S.w. ME, c. MI & s.e. KS, s. to FL & s.e. TX, with disjunct populations in c. TX, widely separated from those in s.e. TX
Native Habitat: Low, deciduous woods; stream banks; swamps

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist , Wet
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Moist, sandy, well-drained soils. Caliche type, Limestone-based, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam
Conditions Comments: Spicebush is a fast-growing shrub, useful in moist, shady places. A small amount of sun yields a bush with better form and more berries. There are no serious disease or insect problems.

Benefit

Use Food: A tea can be made from the aromatic leaves and twigs, and the tried and powdered fruit can be used as a spice. (Niering)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Fragrant Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Fragrant Foliage: yes
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies
Larval Host: Eastern Tiger Swallowtail, Spicebush Swallowtail

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Lindera benzoin is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
Spicebush Swallowtail
(Papilio troilus)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA
Promethea silkmoth
(Callosamia promethea)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA
Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
(Papilio glaucus)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA

Propagation

Seed Collection: Collect seeds in late summer through October when the fruit has turned red. Seeds must be cleaned before storing. Store seeds in moist sand or sow immediately. Seeds allowed to dry out lose viability.
Seed Treatment: Stratify for 90-120 days at 41 degrees. Some texts say double stratification (a month of warm stratification followed by 3 months of cool stratification) is necessary.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

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From the National Suppliers Directory

According to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:

Edge of the Woods Native Plant Nursery - Orefield, PA
LAMTREE FARM - Warrensville, NC
Enchanter's Garden - Hinton, WV
Campbell Family Nursery - Harmony, NC
American Native Nursery - Quakertown, PA
Toadshade Wildflower Farm - Frenchtown, NJ
Hill Country Natives - Leander, TX
Far South Wholesale Nursery - Austin, TX

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center - Austin, TX
Texas Discovery Gardens - Dallas, TX
Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Texas Parks and Wildlife Department - Austin, TX
Longwood Gardens - Newark, DE
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE

Bibliography

Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright
Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski
Bibref 354 - Native & Naturalized Woody Plants of Austin & the Hill Country (1981) Lynch, D.
Bibref 841 - Native Alternatives to Invasive Plants (2006) Burrell, C. C.
Bibref 291 - Texas Wildscapes: Gardening for Wildlife (1999) Damude, N. & K.C. Bender
Bibref 297 - Trees of Central Texas (1984) Vines, Robert A.
Bibref 286 - Wildflowers of the Texas Hill Country (1989) Enquist, M.

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Recommended Species Lists

Find native plant species by state. Each list contains commercially available species suitable for gardens and planned landscapes. Once you have selected a collection, you can browse the collection or search within it using the combination search.

View Recommended Species page

Additional resources

USDA: Find Lindera benzoin in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Lindera benzoin in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Lindera benzoin

Metadata

Record Modified: 2013-10-27
Research By: EJF

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