Monday, June 20, 2016

The Northern Spicebush (Lindera benzoin)

The Northern Spicebush (Lindera benzoin), is most easily recognized by the spicy aromatic leaves that increase in size from the base to the tip of the twig. It is a small deciduous shrub or small tree to reaches only 16 feet tall. It grows in erect form with a single trunk and open crown. When bruised or damaged the plant is quite aromatic.

Image Citation: Vern Wilkins, Indiana University,

The leaves are alternate, simple, thin, aromatic (when crushed), with hairy upper surfaces and a dark green color. The flowers are yellow, tiny and borne in several-flowered clusters with the male and female flowers occurring on separate plants in the Spring prior to leaf expansion. The fruit is an ellipsoid, bright red drupe, 8-10 mm long and maturing in the Fall. The bark is gray, becoming darker with age.

Image Citation: Chris Evans, University of Illinois,

It is native to the United States from Ontario and Southern Maine to Florida in the East and Michigan and Texas in the West. It is found primarily along stream banks, moist woodlands, wetland margins from 0-1200 m.

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