Lindera benzoin L.
Information courtesy of Magna Vista High School students
Lindera benzoin, named by Carl Linnaeus, translates to linear neck, good gift of God.
The common name Spicebush originated in Southeast Asia from the idea that the berries and twigs can be used to make spices.
It comes from the Lauraceae family. It is common in all states with the exception of Maine.
Spicebush is native to the middle-eastern United States, from Texas to Maine.
Spicebush is a single or few stemmed deciduous shrub, usually 6-12ft. tall, with glossy leaves and slender, light green branches.
Its leaves are simple and oval-shaped with a bristle pointed apex. The veins are pinnate shaped, and the leaf has an entire smooth margin.
Clusters of tiny, pale yellow flowers bloom before the leaves bud. Flowers also occur in clusters followed by glossy red fruit.
Bloom time for Spicebush begins in April, while in the all the leaves turn a golden-yellow color. It is a perennial with a normal life cycle exceeding two years.
Spicebush have male and female flowers on different plants so they reproduce by the pollinators spreading seeds and pollen from flower to flower.
Pollinators and insects that are associated with Spicebush are the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail Butterfly (Papilio glaucus) and the Cloak Butterfly (Nymphalis antiopa).
It is an important host plant to butterflies in the Swallowtail family and many birds. White-tailed deer often eat the leaves and twigs. Several fungi grow near the roots and exchange nutrients with each other.
Different uses for Spicebush include a tea made from the leaves and twigs. Also, the dried and powdered fruit of the plant can be used as a spice. American Indians used the tea made from the berries for coughs, cramps, delayed menses, croup, and measles.