Thursday, April 21, 2011

Spicebush

(Pictured: Spicebush with unripe fruits, from Jomegat, off Wikipedia)

Spicebush is a deciduous shrub that has a height of eight feet tall (and a spread equal to that) and has lovely flowers. The blooms are a particular yellowish green color which flower over the shrub from March to May. Spicebush has a good number of interesting facts about it and will be a great addition to any water garden or as a marginal plant in the landscape. There are fruits that will adorn the shrub in the fall season, from September to October. They are red and berry-like.

Interesting Facts about Spicebush
  1. There are leaves on this particular shrub that will give out a wonderfully spicy odor when they are crushed. Put this in a part of the landscape that wildlife trample and you’ll get a whiff of it every time the breeze blows.
  2. The fruits of the shrub are also fragrant. They have a light pepper aroma that will catch the air as well. These fruits have been dried and powdered, and the result has been used as a substitute for the spice “allspice”.
  3. Leaves, fruits, and twigs (in addition to making a superb potpourri) have been made into essential oils and fragrant teas at one time. Each of these is an early use for the plant, in addition to its use today in the landscape as pure decoration.

How to Grow and Plant Spicebush
The Lindera benzoin needs full sun or partial shade in the landscape. The shrub is a slow grower and rounded when full grown. It will attract birds and butterflies to the garden, which makes an interesting array of focal points for a water garden addition. It typically will not have much disease or decay when properly planted, but it is food for the Swallowtail butterfly and for some birds, so there may be some caterpillar and bird foraging through the bush. This is a USDA hardy plant from zones four to nine. It is one of the lower maintenance shrubs for a landscape, and putting it to use in a water garden setting is optimal to bring out its best features. If a gardener would like to attempt to propagate this plant for future use, by seed is the best method.

Scientific Classification for Spicebush
  • Kingdom Plantae – Plants
  • Subkingdom Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
  • Superdivision Spermatophyta – Seed plants
  • Division Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
  • Class Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
  • Subclass Magnoliidae
  • Order Laurales
  • Family Lauraceae – Laurel family
  • Genus Lindera Thunb. – spicebush
  • Species Lindera benzoin (L.) Blume – northern spicebush

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