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Spicebush, Spice Bush

Lindera benzoin

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




Water Requirements:

Requires consistently moist soil; do not let dry out between waterings

Sun Exposure:

Partial to Full Shade



Foliage Color:




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)

Where to Grow:

Grow outdoors year-round in hardiness zone



Bloom Color:

Bright Yellow

Bloom Characteristics:

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

Bloom Size:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Other details:

Unknown - Tell us

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:

Remove fleshy coating on seeds before storing

Allow unblemished fruit to ripen; clean and dry seeds


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

Birmingham, Alabama

New Market, Alabama

Huntsville, Arkansas

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

Carlisle, Massachusetts

Mashpee, Massachusetts

Natick, 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

Guysville, Ohio

Perry, Ohio

Tulsa, Oklahoma

Allentown, Pennsylvania

Blairsville, Pennsylvania

Downingtown, Pennsylvania

Fayetteville, Pennsylvania

Glen Rock, Pennsylvania

Greencastle, Pennsylvania

Hummelstown, Pennsylvania

Levittown, Pennsylvania

New Tripoli, Pennsylvania

Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

Florence, South Carolina

Doyle, Tennessee

Goodlettsville, Tennessee

Mc Minnville, Tennessee

Smyrna, Tennessee

Austin, Texas

Arlington, Virginia

Blacksburg, Virginia

Chesterfield, Virginia

Leesburg, Virginia

Staunton, Virginia

Vienna, Virginia

Falling Waters, West Virginia

Rosedale, West Virginia

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Apr 22, 2017, xerces from Natick, MA wrote:

Great shrub, grows easily in garden soil in afternoon shade (morning sun). I never water it. Pretty, small, yellow flowers. I find Spicebush Swallowtail caterpillars every year. They don't defoliate the tree at all, just eat a few leaves and move on. You can find them in a curled leaf in the early morning.


On Aug 26, 2016, Timberplot from Blairsville, PA wrote:

Spicebush is a desirable native shrub to have in your landscape. In Western PA, I have noted Spicebush growing in many mature woodland settings. The early settlers would look for Spicebush as a good indicator of fertile soil and thus cleared the woods where it was found to plant their crops.
I enjoy walking through a woods near my home where the understory is dominated with Spicebush and some scattered Witch Hazel. This particular woods is a mature forest of mostly Black Cherry, Red Maple and some Shingle Oak. There are some invasive shrubs but the woods has remained undisturbed for the most part reducing the spread of many invasive shrub species.
In the late Summer and early Fall, if the gnats and mosquitos are bad, I will crush a few red Spicebush berries between my fingers... read more


On May 30, 2016, Mimosarose from Goodlettsville, TN wrote:

My friend gave me a sucker from her mature bush and although it requires copious amounts of water until established, it's worth the trouble. The blooms in very early Spring are a gardeners delight. It's divine. Clove scented, you can smell the fragrance across your yard. The foliage is pretty too. Mine gets pretty much all day sun in zone 7.


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 understor... read more


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.


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 be... read more


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.


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

Wonderful fragrance and berries, BUT only on female plants.


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 wilte... read more


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?


On Apr 4, 2010, sherriseden from Bloomington, IN (Zone 6a) 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!


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

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


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.


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.


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.