Photo by Melody

PlantFiles: Spicebush, Spice Bush
Lindera benzoin

Family: Lauraceae (law-RAY-see-ee) (Info)
Genus: Lindera (lin-DEER-ruh) (Info)
Species: benzoin (ben-ZOH-in) (Info)

11 vendors have this plant for sale.

41 members have or want this plant for trade.

View this plant in a garden


6-8 ft. (1.8-2.4 m)
8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)
10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)
12-15 ft. (3.6-4.7 m)

8-10 ft. (2.4-3 m)
10-12 ft. (3-3.6 m)

USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)
USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)
USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)
USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)
USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)
USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)
USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)
USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)
USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)
USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)
USDA Zone 9a: to -6.6 C (20 F)
USDA Zone 9b: to -3.8 C (25 F)

Sun Exposure:
Partial to Full Shade


Bloom Color:
Bright Yellow

Bloom Time:
Mid Spring


Other details:
This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Soil pH requirements:
4.5 or below (very acidic)
4.6 to 5.0 (highly acidic)
5.1 to 5.5 (strongly acidic)
5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)
6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)
6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
7.6 to 7.8 (mildly alkaline)

Patent Information:

Propagation Methods:
By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
From seed; direct sow outdoors in fall
From seed; stratify if sowing indoors
By simple layering
By tip layering

Seed Collecting:
Unknown - Tell us

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There are a total of 24 photos.
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8 positives
4 neutrals
No negatives

Gardeners' Notes:

Positive coriaceous On Mar 17, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

This is an attractive native shrub that I commonly see growing in wild areas in the northeast, in moist shade, usually on low sites near water. It tolerates fairly heavy shade.

The major showy ornamental attribute most people will notice is the consistently good yellow fall foliage, even in heavy shade. The spring flowers are small, and might underwhelm someone who's expecting them to substitute for forsythia, but I find them a welcome sign of spring. I have never seen its ripe fruit, because the birds seem to take them so quickly.

This valuable woodland plant supports wildlife and on moist soil sites can help replace the invasive exotic shrubs---honeysuckles, barberry, winged euonymus, multiflora rose, and buckthorn---that are wiping out the native understory plants of so many of our woodlands.

The leaves and twigs have a sweet smell like sassafras or root beer when crushed.

It isn't as showy as many of our usual garden plants, but its quiet presence can contribute to a native woodland garden.

Positive Rickwebb On Jan 5, 2014, Rickwebb from Downingtown, PA wrote:

It is a clean, neat plant that is not fancy, but it is really nice with good yellow fall color, handsome foliage, and smooth gray stems with whitish lenticels. In southeast Pennsylvania it is one of the few native shrubs that is surviving the infestation of invasive Asian shrubs as Amur Honeysuckle, Asian Privet, and Multiflora Rose in open woods and woodland edges. It also tolerates a lot of shade and is not eaten by deer. The male (staminate) plants have bigger, showier flower clusters than the female (pistillate) plants. The later bear red football shaped fruit loved by birds.

Positive plant_it On May 29, 2013, plant_it from Valparaiso, IN wrote:

Because spicebush is dioecious, youll need both a male and a female plant to produce fruit (only the female plants have berries). So buy more than one! Make room in your garden for this handsome plant and you can expect to attract the likes of great-crested flycatchers, eastern kingbirds, veeries, white-throated sparrows, and red-eyed and white-eyed vireos. Over 20 bird species relish spicebushs big, bright red, high-fat, fragrant drupes.

Though most people plant spicebush for its showy, bird-friendly fruit, the fruit is just one of many reasons to include this lovely large shrub in your landscape. Spicebush also offers aromatic leaves and twigs, lemony fall color, and dainty yellow flowers in early spring. The flowers, which are petal-less and spicily fragrant, appear before the leaves in delicate, branch-hugging clusters. Picture golden halos. Because it blooms early in the spring when many other plants are bare, Spicebush is an important first nectar source for pollinators.

This shrub also makes an excellent addition to the butterfly garden. The beautiful spicebush butterfly lays its eggs on this plant so when their unusual looking larvae hatch on it they have the food they need to grow, make a chrysalis in a rolled up leaf and then hatch into a beautiful black swallowtail butterfly to begin the life cycle once more. Besides the Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio Troilus) it is also a host plant for the awesome huge Promethea silk moth (Callosamia promethean) and the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail (Papilio glaucus).

Spicebush is easy to grow. It takes well to soils that are moist, fertile, and well drained. Spicebush is especially effective at the edge of a woodland garden or planted along a stream or creek.

Spicebush gets 5-15 feet tall. The bushes are usually colonial, spreading by the roots. Crush or scratch the thin, brittle twigs, or any part of spicebush to release its lemony-spicy fragrance.

Positive JonthanJ On Jul 7, 2012, JonthanJ from Logansport, IN wrote:

L. benzoin is native here, growing wild in the fencerows around the field where our house is, even in considerably more sun than I would have thought it could take. It is a much better understory shrub than the honeysuckle bush that bedevils our woods, but it prefers relatively moist sites.

The roots are shallow, early spring transplantation works well, just after the buds break.

Neutral valf On May 17, 2011, valf from Joplin, MO (Zone 6b) wrote:

Wonderful fragrance and berries, BUT only on female plants.

Neutral DiegoJames On Jul 21, 2010, DiegoJames from Allentown, PA wrote:

I love this plant. I love the smell of the leaves, I love the bright yellow green, I love the natural woodsy look. I was so excited about this little plant when I got it and it near doubled in size in it's first two months. Then the summer heat (90's and higher) hit and it did not do well. It could not take any of the direct sunlight it was getting for two hours a day and was so wilted that it looked as though it would simply not make it. I moved it to total shade, but it was a gonner. The leaves were now turning to dry paper. I took it to the cool basement with a flourescent light right above. It's doing fine here for now, though I know I can't keep it there. After it perked up I brought it back out on a high 80's day, in it's terra cotta pot, in the shade and it completely wilted nearly immediately, and again into the basement it went and there it perked right back. I believe what I did to hurt the plant originally was that it was too wet. I know it wasn't dry. And when I first took it out to move to the shade there was a smell of rot to the roots. It was in the most clay soil in my yard and I must have dug too deep a hole and it bowled the water and rotted. This really about did the plant in and it is STILL in the basement. I'm going to let it out in late mid to late August when it gets a little cooler. I guess I'll leave it in it's pot and then transplant it in Autumn. I hope that it makes it through the Winter. In the Spring it will find itself in a total shade place with a couple hours of very late day sun, a high bed and very nice soil. I love this plant and hope it makes it.

Neutral joylily514 On May 5, 2010, joylily514 from Katy, TX (Zone 9a) wrote:

For some reason my spicebush has not bloomed in the 3 years since I planted it. It's growing well, in fact it's grown very fast. Anyone have any suggestions?

Positive sherriseden On Apr 4, 2010, sherriseden from Des Plaines, IL (Zone 5b) wrote:

This plant is tough - and beautiful! I got mine about 4 years ago from a prairie plant sale. The company the vendor used to transport plants to the sale site packed the plants in; some by the exhaust. The plant was literally scorched. The vendor gave me a large percentage off, so I decided to try to save it. I planted it by a large silver maple whose roots I had to fight to get the plant in. (I know - dumb!) It grew and flourished, but looked cramped, so this year, I finally moved it. This is the truth - the minute I moved it, its incredible grace and beauty came out - it looked BEAUTIFUL!!! That was two weeks ago. This weeks, it's flowers are out and it looks actually PROUD!

Positive margaran On May 24, 2008, margaran from (Maggie) Jacksonville, FL (Zone 9a) wrote:

This plant is a larval food source for the Spicebush swallowtail.

Positive Hogwaump On May 29, 2006, Hogwaump from Rosedale, WV (Zone 7b) wrote:

AKA Northern Spicebush, known in the north as 'wild forsythia' because it blooms yellow in very early spring. Landscapers like it for the blooms and the red berries that persist into late fall. Beloved by native Americans, all parts have been used medicinally. A fragrant tea can be made from the leaves, which give off a lemony aroma. The berries can be dried and used like allspice or black pepper, hence the common name. Fresh spicebush berries can be crushed to season meats, stews, soups, etc. A beverage similar to ginger ale can also be made from the fresh berries. Pioneer families kept the cut twigs in their kitchens - the 'spice sticks' were used to flavor soups. Modern usage is mostly for potpourri. Some birds and also bears eat the berries.

Neutral nick89 On Apr 19, 2005, nick89 from Tallahassee, FL (Zone 8b) wrote:

An attractive native shrub or sometimes a small tree. The yellow flowers appear on naked branches in early spring. The red berries ripen in late summer or fall. Usually on found on wet sites in woodlands.

Positive ohmysweetpjs On Oct 19, 2002, ohmysweetpjs from Brookeville, MD wrote:

I give this a positive because it's a host plant for the spicebush caterpillars and the berries are delicious and can be made into jelly.


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Birmingham, Alabama
New Market, Alabama
Morrilton, Arkansas
North Little Rock, Arkansas
Jacksonville, Florida
Kissimmee, Florida
Oviedo, Florida
Pensacola, Florida
Pompano Beach, Florida
Tampa, Florida
Cordele, Georgia
Chicago, Illinois
Des Plaines, Illinois
Joliet, Illinois
Waukegan, Illinois
Wheaton, Illinois
Bloomington, Indiana
Indianapolis, Indiana
Logansport, Indiana
Martinsville, Indiana
Valparaiso, Indiana
Louisville, Kentucky
Arnold, Maryland
Brookeville, Maryland
Linthicum Heights, Maryland
Mashpee, Massachusetts
Roslindale, Massachusetts
Dearborn Heights, Michigan
Elsberry, Missouri
Joplin, Missouri
Saint Louis, Missouri
Frenchtown, New Jersey
Maplewood, New Jersey
Central Square, New York
Elizabeth City, North Carolina
Holly Springs, North Carolina
Glouster, Ohio
Tulsa, Oklahoma
Allentown, Pennsylvania
Downingtown, Pennsylvania
Glen Rock, Pennsylvania
Greencastle, Pennsylvania
Hummelstown, Pennsylvania
Levittown, Pennsylvania
Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania
Florence, South Carolina
Mc Minnville, Tennessee
Smyrna, Tennessee
Austin, Texas
Arlington, Virginia
Blacksburg, Virginia
Leesburg, Virginia
Staunton, Virginia
Falling Waters, West Virginia
Rosedale, West Virginia

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