Lindera benzoin (L.) Blume
  • ALTERNATE COMMON NAME: northern spicebush
  • LEAVES: deciduous, alternate, simple, short petiolate; blades oval to obovate, thin, 1.5-3” long by 1-2.5” wide, margins entire; leaves aromatic with a citrus-like odor
  • FLOWER: unisexual, plants dioecious, flowers yellow, small and born in supra-axillary roundish clusters appearing in March prior to leafing-out
  • FRUIT: lustrous, bright red drupe, ellipsoidal in shape, 0.3-0.4” long; drupes on pedicels (stalks) to 0.15” which are slightly dilated where attached to drupes; fruits maturing in (August-) September
  • TWIGS: aromatic; first year branchlets pubescent, becoming glabrous, glabrous, grayish to brown, bearing slightly raised, paler lenticels; later in the growing season, three supra-axillary buds develop on first-year twigs, the central smaller bud becoming a short shoot, and the larger lateral buds developing into inflorescences the following spring
  • BARK: light brownish gray, smooth
  • FORM: shrub to 15’ tall (rarely an understory tree)
  • HABITAT: mesic rich soils, high sites in bottomland hardwood forest, southern mesophytic hardwood forest, rarely in forested seeps
  • WETLAND DESIGNATION: Facultative Wetland (FACW): Usually occurs in wetlands, but may occur in non-wetlands of the Atlantic and Gulf Coast Plain Region
  • RANGE: eastern US  [County Range Map]
  • USES: substitute for allspice once made from ground leaves; ornamental
  • WILDLIFE: browsed by whitetail deer and rabbits, fruit reportedly eaten by many birds
  • Best Recognition Features:
    1. deciduous shrub with thin, aromatic leaves
    2. supra-axillary buds developing late in growing season on first-year twigs
    3. yellowing flowers appearing before leaves erupt
    4. red ellipsoidal drupes in late summer and fall