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Spicebush, Common Spicebush, Benjamin-bush, Wild Allspice, Feverbush, Snapbush, Spice-wood
Lindera benzoin (Benzoin aestivale)


A wide-ranging North American native, spicebush prefers mesic creek bottoms and rich wooded slopes of sandy or peaty soils and rocky areas along streams. It is at home on the Edwards Plateau in Central Texas to East Texas, north to Oklahoma, Missouri, Kansas, Arkansas and Michigan, and east through Louisiana and into Florida and South-east Virginia, Ohio, Maine and Ontario. It is a much-branched shrub or slender tree bearing deep green leaves above, pale and usually pubescent below. Often two leaf sizes appear with a much smaller leaf at the base of a larger one. The small greenish-yellow, fragrant, umbel-like clusters of early spring flowers are followed by red, fleshy, spicy late summer fruit which contrast appealingly with the dark green leaves. It often has glowing yellow or golden fall color. It is aromatic, with a spicy fragrance, easily noticed by simply brushing against it. Our Texas plants appear to be variety pubescens, as the lower leaf surfaces and young branches are permanently felty. It has been observed that spicebush from East Texas usually do not thrive in the drier habitats of Central Texas, while those from Central Texas tolerate dry sites and thin, alkaline soils as long as they are afforded some shade. Spicebush is also a useful plant for wetlands. Its leaves were once used to make a tea and its fruit was a substitute for allspice. It has a high lipid content, making it especially valuable to migrating birds having high energy requirements. It has been in cultivation since 1863. There are several cultivars available in the trade, showing red flowers or orangy-yellow fruit.

Plant Habit or Use: medium shrub
large shrub
small tree

Exposure: partial sun

Flower Color: yellow, green

Blooming Period:

Fruit Characteristics: bright red or scarlet drupe

Height: 6 to 12 feet; rarely to 20 feet

Width: 6 to 12 feet

Plant Character: deciduous

Heat Tolerance: high

Water Requirements:

Soil Requirements: acid

USDA Hardiness Zone: 5

Additional Comments:

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