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Spice Bush - Lindera Bezoin
The spice bush is a deciduous shrub that can grow to be 6-12 feet high and wide with an open, rounded habit. The stems start out a greenish brown color and turn darker brown with hints of green as they mature. The thick, glossy leaves are a pretty teardrop shape and are pointed on both ends. They measure 4-6” long and 2-3” wide. In the fall, they turn a stunning golden yellow. The spice bush produces fragrant, yellow flower clusters that appear in the early spring, The spice bush can be either male or female. The female bush produces shiny, oval-shaped clusters of red fruit that are about ½” long. These fruits are usually hidden by the foliage until after the leaves drop in the fall. All parts of this bush are very aromatic when crushed.
In the fall, you can collect and dry the berries and use them like allspice to make ice cream and spice cake. You can also use them as a marinade or a rub for meat. The pulp and skins have a sweet taste to them, while the seeds have a peppery bite. Be sure to separate the berries into the two different spices before you freeze or dry them because it will be impossible to do afterward. You can use the fresh leaves in hot or iced tea. Dried leaves don’t keep their flavor well, so be sure to use freshly picked ones.
This aromatic bush attracts a variety of wildlife. This includes raccoons, butterflies, and opossums. It is also a food source for birds like the American Robin, the Great Crested Flycatcher, the Northern Bobwhite, the Eastern Kingbird and the Grey Catbird.
The spice bush can grow in zones 4-9. While it can tolerate full sun, it does best in partial shade. It prefers to be planted in moist, acidic, well-drained soil.
Spice Bush is a heavy shade tolerant deciduous shrub, native throughout the eastern United States. It blooms in March with small greenish-yellow flowers and attracts a range of wildlife for its soft fragrance. Despite its showy foliage, it remains tolerant of drought, and deer. Spice Bush is a fairly short shrub that makes it an invaluable habitat for butterflies in woodland areas or a long stream or creek beds. The swallowtail butterfly is attracted to this plant’s aromatic leaves which are not prone to disease or insect infestation.