Rick’s Native Plant of the Month | Northern Spicebush (Lindera benzoin)

April 5, 2022

By Rick Bogusch

Bridge Gardens

With aromatic foliage and twigs, spicebush, Lindera benzoin, is a member of the laurel family, distantly related to sassafras and native from Maine to Florida, and west to the Great Plains. Spicebush is a rounded shrub, 6 to 12 feet tall. It grows easily in the partial shade of moist woodlands, but will also grow in full sun, given adequate moisture.


Clusters of small, yellow flowers bloom in early spring along twigs and branches. Female shrubs produce bright scarlet fruits that persist after leaf drop in fall, if they are not eaten by birds.

Besides being fragrant, leaves are about 5 inches long, oval, bright green in summer and a striking yellow in October, especially on plants grown in full sun.

Spicebush is the host plant of the prometha silkmoth as well as the spicebush swallowtail butterfly, which is black and blue and quite beautiful.

Support the Peconic Land Trust
Peconic Land Trust needs your support to protect the working farms, natural lands, and heritage of Long Island.