Spicebush is an understory plant, a deciduous shrub, and a native plant. There seems to be very little that makes it stand out when you first look at it. It is also full of wild yeasts (which aren’t removed by slow-cookers as the liquid never comes to a boil), and can be used to ferment pickles in, although I find it is better for this purpose to combine with another similarly-prepared wild tea, such as sassafras or pine. The bright green leaves are opposite, 5 - 15 centimetres (2.0 - 5.9 in) long and 2-6 centimetres (0.79 - 2.36 in) broad. It can be successfully propagated by softwood cuttings, although a successful propagation can be difficult. And finally, if it produces berries, some 20+ species of birds will visit in Autumn. The pulp and skins would be used as an allspice-type flavor. Once the color change sets in the berries can be gathered and combined with red chiles to make a red curry paste. Bright red fruits ripen from July through October on female plants, but are only showy once the foliage falls off. Male spicebush grows clusters of yellow-green flowers in the spring, whereas the female spicebush can be identified by the bright red berries that adorn the bush in the late summer months. This of course, is to your advantage if you are making a wild soda, beer or mead, and fresh or dried spicebush teas are a great addition to those. Common Spicebush. Birds feed on the small, brilliant red fruits formed on female plants. Change ), You are commenting using your Facebook account. Find a spot in part sun and wet to moist soil. Once established, spicebush usually does not require extra watering outside of the regular rainfall in its growing zones. Spicebush does not require heavy pruning, and pruning is usually only for aesthetic reasons and to help it maintain its shape. Spicebush berries are wonderful with apples and pears in cobblers and pies; I rarely use cinnamon and nutmeg any more. Comparison of fruit (fall) It can grow 8 to 15 feet tall and 6 to 15 feet wide. The spicebush serves as a larval host to the caterpillars of the spicebush swallowtail butterfly, the Promethea silkmoth, and the eastern tiger swallowtail, which feed on … Moist soil is best. Its ripe berries can be used to make what is often called “Appalachian Allspice”. Many other Lindera species also have the word spicebush included in their common names. Some people make a sun tea of the leaves but I have never had much truck with this approach. People use the twigs, leaves, and buds in teas. Fertilize in the early spring and then again in midsummer. The anterior of a larva has two large eyespots and resembles the head of a snake. Scientific Name: Lindera benzoin. Change ), You are commenting using your Google account. ( Log Out /  The Spicebush Swallowtail wing span is in the 3.5" - 4.5" range. It can be found in areas dominated by deciduous hardwoods–spicebush flowers in the early spring and sets fruit early, so it needs the canopy above to be relatively free of evergreen foliage. In addition to the 25 species of birds that eat the tiny berries, it also serves as larvae food of the Spicebush butterfly. The Iroquois and Ojibwa tribes of North America considered the spicebush berries as two dissimilar seasonings. The smell remains strong on twigs that have been stored several years in a dry environment. Red spicebush berries are a sweeter spice, almost reminiscent of allspice, to which they are often compared. For example, an allspice-like spice made from spicebush berries is recommended as the perfect seasoning for opossum and groundhog. Spicebush is dioecious, meaning male and female flowers appear on separate plants. Fruit or berries of spicebush are dried out and used as an allspice substitute. The best time to take softwood cuttings for spicewood propagation is in the late summer or fall. Spicebush grows best in full sun to partial shade conditions. In winter, leaves and berries drop off, but the fresh twigs can still be used. I would almost rate this initial stage as a third dried spice, but the size of the berries when they have this intensity of flavor is quite small. This native shrub is eye-catching and low-maintenance. Because it grows so profusely along hiking trails in my area, I collect it at state and national parks (HEAVEN FORFEND) where the park rangers already clearly maintain a trail. Spicebush dram is a superior liqueur. Spicebush Tea: Keepin' it Simple Simply boil water, and pour over twigs and leaves of fresh or dried spicebush. ….a new found believer in spicebush because of you. A spicebush dry rub is great with chicken or pork. I like to think that some of them wonder why their job has already been done, but more likely than not they don’t give it a second thought. In late spring and early summer, the fresh green berries can be combined with green chiles and aromatics to make a green curry paste. View all posts by Mallory O'Donnell. Germination will occur in the spring of the following year. Spicebush is native to the Americas and is hardy in USDA zones 4-9. Placing them on trays in an open environment will dry them, but the succulence and oils of the leaves never quite depart, resulting in a dried leaf thats will spoil if stored in jars. If you are wanting to collect flowers of spicebush in the spring, or fruits in summer and fall, I recommend collecting only limbs of male trees, which do not have visible flowerbuds developing. The tiny yellow-green, non-fragrant flowers of spicebush are produced in clusters along the bare branches and are amongst the earliest to appear in the spring, typically blooming about the same time as forsythia. It is adaptable to a wide range of growing conditions and is low-maintenance once it is established. Spicebush is a deciduous shrub growing 6 to 12 feet tall with glossy leaves and graceful, slender, light green branches. They can be used fresh to make curry or spice pastes, pickled or fermented a la capers, or dried. Seeds of spicebush berries were used for their fiery taste. The best time to prune spicebush is after the shrub has finished flowering in the spring. Introducing "One Thing": A New Video Series, The Spruce Gardening & Plant Care Review Board, The Spruce Renovations and Repair Review Board, Spicebush, northern spicebush, Benjaminbush. My initial experimentation with spicebush flower has been very positive and made me excited for more–I infused flowers and twigs in both vinegar and Mirin, and found that these each had an intriguing flavor, not exactly the same as when other parts of the plant were used, but warmer and sweeter. Spicebush grows to 10 feet tall, with pretty, teardrop-shaped leaves 2 to 5 inches long. It has a completely distinct scent, but you have to smell it to know it. The tiny yellow flowers are relatively insignificant, but they make an attractive display when the tree is in full bloom. Red Currant Black RaspberryGooseberry Aronia Berry Aronia melanocarpa$15Aronia Berry, Viking Aronia melanocarpa$20Blackberry (Thornless), Chester Rubus spp.$15Cherry (Black/Wild)Prunus serotina$15Cherry (Red Sour) (OUT OF STOCK)Prunus cerasus$15Chokecherry … I will often let this tea sit overnight, and strain it in the morning. It is accustomed to cold winters, warm springs, and mild to hot summers - although thanks to its adaptable nature it can tolerate a wide range of conditions. With time, it develops a wide-spreading, vase-shaped habit. Before the berries change color, the flavor begins to swing, from peppery and lemony to sweet and resiny, with a hint of the aromatic spice of cinnamon or clove. The taste of the fresh red berries isn’t really more pungent than that of the green ones, but it is assertive in a way that is generally a bit more trying on the palate. Variegated Yucca To make spicebush tea, chop up some of the early flowers, twig tips, leaves, or bark. The larvae of the spicebush swallowtail are easily found inside leaves that have been folded over by the application of silk; small larvae are brown, resembling bird droppings, and mature larvae are green. It is a four-season edible, and probably bears a lot of the responsibility for why I am an advocate of winter foraging. Leaves of spicebush can also be consumed raw, generally in the form of a condiment. It passes by quite unnoticed along many a hiking trail or watershed. When it's not in bloom, the leaves of spicebush are deep green in the summer months, and golden-yellow in the fall months. They would separate the seeds of the berries from the pulp and skins. As its name suggests, spicebush leaves and twigs give off a spicy fragrance and flavor when crushed. Spicebush berries can be used as a replacement for allspice, and the powdered bark makes a serviceable cinnamon. Also commonly known as northern spicebush and Benjaminbush, spicebush is an aromatic shrub that has interest almost year-round. The bark has a strong camphor smell that is released when stems are scraped. Small green-yellow flowers appear in early spring, before its foliage emerges. The fruits of Spicebush are shiny red berries called drupes. Spicebush is dioecious, which means that male and female flowers are on separate plants. Its berries have a mild allspice flavor, and when dried and crushed its bark can pass for a mild cinnamon substitute. The berries can be used as well, yet because of their oil content they go rancid if stored at room temperature. If you can, if you do, you will find an ingredient that will constistantly surprise you with how intense its flavor is, and how pliable and useful that flavor is in the kitchen. Spicebush’s bark, twigs, and leaves, both fresh and dried, can be made into a simple tea that creates a fresher, greener, and lighter cinnamon taste. How to Grow and Care for Black Huckleberries, How to Grow and Care for the Carolina Rose, 16 Best Native Plants for Southern Gardens. If not, sampling a handful of leaves or a few winter twigs won’t harm the plant much. Essentially, I do their pruning for them, snapping back intruding twigs in winter and collecting fruit most likely to fall in an area where constant travel would impede their growth. The fresh red berries can be used as well, and I make curry pastes and spice pastes with those, combining with red chiles and other aromatic ingredients. Throughout most of the year the leaves can be used.The first tiny leave buds can be thrown into a sautee pan and cooked and eaten as is, lovely added to a cream or butter sauce for fish or pasta. (Lloyd and Lloyd)." Sow the seeds immediately after harvesting in a pot or directly in the garden bed. It is a medium-sized shrub. It tolerates both alkaline and acidic soils well. […]. The best berry production will come from planting a male and female of the same species, but you can sometimes get away with using a different species as long as both the male and the female plants are the same type of Ilex (that is, both deciduous or both evergreen) with the same (potential) color berries (red or black-berried species). One of the best ways to experience that versatility is by making fresh spicebush berry-based curry pastes. Spicebush is a versatile spice, whether dried or fresh. It is a good choice for plantings in shady locations but can also grow in full sun. But there is much more to the American spicebush’s story than landscape appeal. Spicebush is dioecious, meaning male and female flowers are present on separate plants. Change ), You are commenting using your Twitter account. You will be surprised when collecting them in fall and winter how strong and resinous they smell, as this hardy bush still holds plenty of energy in its aboveground parts. This can be dried but is best used fresh–I like to make a slow-cooker tea by piling the twigs in my slow-cooker and placing on high for the better part of the day. In fact, spicebush was traditionally used by Native Americans as a medicinal tea. Spicebush should be fertilized twice during each growing season. Berries of the female plant have a flavor resembling allspice, which was used historically as a seasoning. Male plants have showier, dense clusters of fragrant tiny, pale yellow flowers in early spring before the foliage emerges. Aromatic light green leaves turn deep yellow-gold in fall. Two of my favorite dessert recipes for spicebush are spicebush macarons and acorn baklava with spicebush berries. Bring a pot of water to a boil, then remove it from the heat. As the size of the berries increases, the flavor begins slowly to broaden out. In winter, I mostly collect the branches from public parks and maintained trails–spicebush will grow in abundance along the edges of biking and hiking trails, so I try to keep my branch collection to the spots where these bushes will inevitably have to be trimmed and truncated by park officials. At least, it’s everywhere if you live by me. Seasonal flooding is okay for Spicebush. I feel like the flavor never quite gets strong enough to be a good tea, and the leaves will ferment very quickly. It should be abundant, if you wish to collect flowers or fruit (“spicebush berries or spiceberries”). In my area it is most abundant, one of the few natives to have survived the onslaught of invasive plants, canes and shrubs that have slowly taken over our hardwood understory. Unusually, both of these can also be used fresh, as the basis for curry or spice pastes, or preserved whole a la capers. You get bees and butterflies in early Spring, deer/rabbits and other mammals browsing leaves throughout the year. I recommend using cheesecloth if this interferes with your desired final result, or coffee filters if you are particularly delicate. It gets red berries, and when you crush the twigs or any part of this bush you will get a lemony-spicy smell. surveyors and settlers used spicebush as an indicator species for good agricultural land. It has attractive, aromatic sea-green oval leaves that turn a bright yellow in the fall. The prime time for collecting the green berries is when they are fully-sized but before the berries begin to turn red, usually up until early August. ( Log Out /  I prefer the twig tea to a straight tea made from any of the leaves, but that from machine-dried and stored leaves is best. Accordingly, I tend to use more sweet dried spices or other aromatic ingredients when making a paste with fresh red spicebush. Male spicebush grows clusters of yellow-green flowers in the spring, whereas the female spicebush can be identified by the bright red berries that adorn the bush in the late summer months. Spicebush swallowtails are not considered to be a pest to the spicebush, which is actually very resilient to pests. In late spring and early summer, the fresh green berries can be combined with green chiles and aromatics to make a green curry paste. By late summer, sometimes even mid-summer if it is particularly hot, the fruit will turn red and mature, and the leaves will gradually begin to yellow, and will drop off in the fall. It is most often used in landscapes in shrub borders and naturalized areas. Native to the low woods, stream banks, and wetlands of the eastern United States and Canada, spicebush (Lindera benzoin) is an easy-to-grow, deciduous shrub in the Lauraceae family. spicebush berries or drupes Spicebush flowers before the leaves emerge in late winter to early spring. Its bark can be dried and powdered and is said to be an acceptable cinnamon substitute. Its leaves are soft and fairly large, with a distinctive fragrance that echoes the flavors and aromas to be found in the other parts of the plant. Because this plant is dioecious, both male and female plants must be close enought to permit cross pollination to produce the berries. Spicebush twig tea is oily, and there will be a small amount of this resinous matter on the top of the tea when you strain it. The flowers on the female plant eventually turn into green drupes that mature into bright red berries in fall. The leaves are an oval shape with smooth edges. In locations with strong spicebush populations, the woods become a veritable sea of wispy yellow flowers, small and innocuous on close inspection but vibrant when they have so little competition from other leaves or flowers. The seeds of the berries were used for their fiery taste. The berries are lovely to look at and have the added value of providing food for birds and other wildlife. This humble bush has a lot going for it. There are at least three cultivators of spicebush that have been developed, although they are not widely available for purchase. Bush honeysuckle - Fragrant, showy white flowers appear after the leaves are present. Coralberry - Small greenish flowers in July Spicebush - Small yellowish-green flowers appear in early spring before the leaves have emerged. This Spicebush Swallowtail (Papilio troilus) is generally black, and marked with broad, black hind wings bordered with pale, greenish spots.Hind wings on the male have a blue-green band, and the female has a blue shading. Tradition states that spicebush should be stored in the refrigerator, as the berries are high in fats and may spoil, but I haven’t found this to be the case with the green fruits, which dry down to a much more shriveled-up size. Spicebush is one of those rare plants that can do it all when it comes to benefiting wildlife in North America! ( Log Out /  Its light green leaves turn a deep golden-yellow in the fall. Softwood cuttings need high humidity in order to sprout roots, so keep the newly potted softwood cutting in a plastic bag to create a humid environment until roots develop. It has smooth-edged, oval and pointed alternate leaves which are oblong. During the first growing season, spicebush should be watered regularly to help it establish a strong root system. That doesn’t mean you’ll see it as often as I do–but you may see it often enough to consider collecting it for use as a food and seasoning. It grows rapidly in wet conditions and tolerates humid conditions more readily than overly dry conditions. It is widely considered to be an adaptable shrub and can tolerate a wide range of moisture conditions including short periods of dry soil or very wet soil. Add the Spicebush berries while they are green for a hint of black pepper, and add while they are red for a strong allspice flavor. Green spicebush berries can be collected as soon as they emerge, and their flavor at first will be especially peppery and citrusy While it can technically survive in full shade as well, the growth habit will become more open and ‘leggy’ which may be considered as less aesthetically pleasing by some. Cori is a freelance writer based out of Ontario, Canada, who specializes in houseplants and houseplant care. They are an average green color and blend in with other, similar, green shrubs. Spicebush was only briefly mentioned in the Dispensatory’s 2nd edition. Although it can be grown from seed with relative ease, Spicebush is not as easily propagated otherwise. Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. I have endeavored here to present an overview of spicebush, rather than a comprehensive study, and hint at its many uses. Add 1 teaspoon of this mixture to 1 cup of boiling water and steep for a few minutes, to taste. Grows best in moist areas, bottomlands, woods, and ravines. Fresh leaves can be used in both hot as well as iced tea. A wide variety of birds feast on these berries, which taste like allspice and are high in fat. it is easy to grow new plants. The fresh growth of twig can be collected and used at any time of the year, but I mainly use it during the winter, when other ingredients are scarce and the plants energy is concentrated in the fresh growth. Office Hours: Monday – Friday: 10:00am – 4:00pm PST Lindera obtusiloba is a multi-stemmed large shrub, sometimes considered a small tree, that matures at about 20 feet tall. The most pronounced flavor change occurs in the berries when the seed emerges in mid-summer, inside the bright green fruit. One of the best ways to experience that is by making fresh spicebush berry-based curry pastes. Spicebush is known as fever bush, Benjamin bush, snap-wood, wild allspice, Appalachian spice, spice wood, and “forsythia of the forest” to name a few. In dry or especially hot seasons, you may find spicebush berries turning red in July, but this is a sign of stress in specific plants, rather than a general indicator of harvest time. Spicebush is an easily grown, broad rounded shrub. Spicebush provides not one, but two dried spices : one sharp and peppery in spring, one savory and spicy in the fall. It tends to congregate along paths, trails and natural clearings, anywhere it can get a little extra light during the growing season. Young branches are a smooth yellow-green, maturing to black-brown or gray. I expect I will use the flowers with great gusto next season. Mallory, I am so impressed, I am sharing this on my site – to bookmark it forever!!!!! I drink this tea as is (its a bracing brew), add to kombucha for secondary ferments, make into a syrup, and cook foods in it, often combined with other wild teas. I usually dry them in my dehydrator on a fruit-roll up tray, but I have air-dried them successfully as well. […] via Spicebush : A Spice For All Seasons […], […] Spicebush is a versatile spice, whether dried or fresh. Spicebush is an excellent native shrub choice for butterfly gardens because it provides food for caterpillars. Spicebush is a non-descript plant. […], […] Those who know me know spicebush is a plant I am an insane raving lunatic advocate for. The attractive berries are hidden beneath the leaves, but are more visible after the leaves drop. I also collect twigs when I harvest whole branches of the plant, which I generally do if I am planning on using every part–leaves, twigs and berries. Flowers in the spring, swallowtail butterflies in the summer and plump red berries in the fall are some of its most eye-catching features. The most pronounced flavor change… I haven’t found that spicebush leaves dry well without using a dehydrator or bags. Despite this, spicebush is not widely commercially available and has no known commercial uses. Spicebush is a host plant for spicebush swallowtail butterflies whose larvae feed on it. Learn how to grow spicebush in your garden and enjoy this showy shrub all year long. This dark grayish tea is spicy and tasty. Collect twigs, leaves, and/or berries from a spicebush plant. I would be happy. Change ), Spicebush : A Spice For All Seasons | PerfettoWritingRoom, Useful Plants On The Homestead – Mountain Bound, Virtual Foraging Workshop with Dr. Julia Skinner, Wild & Conventional Herbs Preserved in Salt. I hope use this article as a base, and compile a list of recipes which incorporate spicebush in some form here, starting with those I have already published : Foraging, Gardening, Cooking. ( Log Out /  The entire plant is aromatic. Learn tips for creating your most beautiful (and bountiful) garden ever. Spicebush Lindera benzoin 6-12' x 8-12' Large rounded multi-stemmed native shrub suited to naturalizing in moist or wet areas, singly or in groups. Harvest the berries in the late summer or fall once they have turned red and remove the seed from inside. The combination of the yellow foliage and red berries really makes this shrub pop in the fall. In early spring comes the flower of spicebush, the part I have used least for seasoning but the part of the plant that most people are familiar with. They also work as infusables, in things such as vinegar or alcohol in which their slow coming-on flavor wont lead to a wild bubbly. When it's not in bloom, the leaves of spicebush are deep green in the summer months, and golden-yellow in the fall months. (Scroll right of the plant lists to see the price on a mobile device) Everything comes rooted in pots unless stated "Bare Root". While allspice is quite fine, to me dried red spicebush has a more complex, daring and interesting flavor, with more sharp and resinous notes. Soft-yellow flowers early in spring followed by small clusters of glossy red berries by mid to late summer. A lot more than at first might meet the eye, or indeed, tongue. and though no one ever reads my site…if it gets folks to come on and read about this…. Spicebush provides a year-round culinary source, since all of its aboveground material is useful, even down to the hardy winter twigs. Male plants have showier, tiny, pale yellow flowers in early spring, but the female counterparts take center stage in early fall, when they're laden with half-inch-diameter berries that turn from green to yellow to high-gloss crimson. Spicebush is native to North Carolina’s mountains, piedmont and coastal plain. If you do collect female limbs, consider stripping the tiny spherical flowerbuds to make capers or a seasoning salt. There are many more ways to use it. The dried red berries can be used for both savory and sweet applications, although I think they shine more when added to ice creams and baked goods, and are certainly superior to the dried green berries. 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