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Spice Bush

Latin: Lindera benzoin

Family: Lauraceae

Description - 6 to 12 feet high with wide, open, round canopy. All parts of the plant are aromatic (spice smell) when crushed. Often reproduces by root sprouts creating a colony.

 

Leaf - simple, alternating, thick, oblong, dark green above, paler below, pointed at both ends, margins smooth and wavy. Remain green long into fall, but turn bright yellow in late autumn.

 

Bark - slightly rough but flat and covered in small lenticels. Mature bark is dark brown with a hint of green.

 

Bud - small, round.

 

Twig - greenish tan with light coloured lenticles (pores).

Flower - fragrant, bright yellow, showy clusters with 6 sepals appearing before leaves. Male and female flowers on separate plants (dioecious) and male flowers are larger and showier.

 

Fruit - ½ inch long clusters of bright red fruit (drupes) rich in lipids. Showy, but hidden by the leaves till fall. High in energy and a favourite of birds.

 

Habitat - drought sensitive and refers partial shade and moist soils.

 

Wildlife Value - berries are food for birds, some mammals browse on leaves, twigs and berries. Flowers are favourite of butterflies with the larvae (caterpillar) of the spicebush swallowtail butterfly and promethea silkmouth feeding on the leaves.

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48075 Jamestown Line R.R. #2, Aylmer ON N5H 2R2