Welcome! Today we are going to discuss Spice Bush (Lindera benzoin). Spicebush is a shrub found in the deciduous forests of New Jersey (in the Pine Barrens It is only found growing along tidal streams). The shrub, part of the Laurel family of plants, can grow from 4-16 feet. It is one of the first native shrubs to bloom following winter (a welcome sight indeed – especially for early pollinators!). All parts of the shrub have a sweet to spicy odor, hence its common name.
The wetland indicator status of Spicebush is FACW which means that in 99% of the time you will find this shrub growing in freshwater wetlands. It’s common to find this shrub blooming in the spring with an understory of Eastern Skunk Cabbage (Symplocarpus foetidus) and False Hellebore (Veratrum viride). The shrub spreads via root sprouts which creates colonies.
In early spring the yellow flowers of Spicebush makes it easy to identify. You might not notice the shrub once the flowers have passed until it forms its berries later in the summer. If they are not eaten, the berries will last through the winter.
Above is a picture of the immature berries of Spicebush which will turn red when mature. The berries are a favorite food of:
Spicebush is also a major host to the Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly.
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