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Lindera benzoin

A favorite food plant for the Eastern Tiger Swallowtail and the Spicebush Swallowtail (both of which are also in abundance around here), the spicebush is an important plant for wildlife in all of it’s stages. The fruits are lipid-rich and high-energy, which is important for fall migratory birds. The leaves are favorite for many butterfly larvae.

For humans, this is a beautiful plant, with very early spring blooms, golden-yellow fall leaves, and lovely red berries in the fall/winter.

Alternate Names: Wild Allspice
Size: 6-12' tall
Family: Lauraceae (Laurel Family)
Habitat: Moist, sandy and well drained soils, likes shade and partial shade, low, deciduous woods, stream banks (especially!) and swamps.
Identification: "Single- or few-stemmed, deciduous shrub, with glossy leaves and graceful, slender, light green branches. Leaves alternate on the branchlets, up to 6 inches long and 2 1/2 inches wide, upper surface dark green, lower surface lighter in color, obovate, tapering more gradually to the base than to the tip, tip somewhat extended margins without teeth or lobes. Dense clusters of tiny, pale yellow flowers bloom before the leaves from globose buds along the twigs. Flowers occur in umbel-like clusters and are followed by glossy red fruit. Both the fruit and foliage are aromatic. Leaves turn a colorful golden-yellow in fall."  From wildflower.org
Uses: The leaves and twigs, which are very aromatic, can be brewed into a tea. If you dry and powder the fruit, this can be used as a spice (similar to allspice). 
All text and photos copyright © 2022 Middle Way Nature Reserve, unless noted.
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