Newton Conservators logo fall photo of Sawmill Brook
 
 

This Month in the Newton Conservators Almanac

April 2013

 
 
Photo by Sue J. Avery

SPICEBUSH, Lindera benzoin

Spicebush is a fairly common large shrub in the understory near streams and in lowlands. Spicebush grows slowly, reaching up to 10 feet high and two to eight feet wide. In shade, the shrub becomes open-branched. Spicebush makes its presence known in April before its leaves emerge, with clouds of tiny, greenish-yellow flowers. If you find this plant, scratch the twigs to smell a spicy aroma. The fragrant green leaves of this plant are eaten by caterpillars of the spicebush swallowtail butterfly. Bright red berries appear on female plants from mid-summer to mid-fall. These berries have been used as a substitute for allspice; they are also favored by migrant and resident birds because the fruit is high in fat. In fall, spicebush leaves turn a rich yellow.

More information:

US Department of Agriculture

Wikipedia

Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center

 

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