A member of the laurel family, the spice bush is a deciduous shrub, native to the woodlands, bottomlands, valleys, and stream edges of the midwestern and eastern United States. In early spring, aromatic, yellow-green flowers adorn its multiple stems, which has given the spicebush the nickname, "forsythia of the wilds." These tiny blooms attract many species of butterflies. The flowers of the female plants beget fragrant fruits, ripening from July through early October to a glossy red. A wide variety of birds feast on these berries, which taste like allspice and are high in fat. Its light green leaves turn a deep golden-yellow in the fall.
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 the leaves.
Not only does the spice bush benefit the native fauna, but tea can also be made from its twigs and leaves. Additionally, the dried berries can be crushed and used as a spice in various recipes.
In landscaping, the spicebush is often used as a shrub border or to naturalize an area. It is also as an ornamental plant. It is relatively slow-growing and requires little maintenance. When unobstructed, it can grow 6 to 12 feet high. It prefers well-drained, moist, acidic soil, and is best planted in masses against darker foliage to showcase its 3-season beauty. The Spice bush grows well in both shade and sun, but a sunnier location will produce a better bush with more berries. The male pollinator, which has more abundant spring flowers than the female, is needed to produce fruit on the female plant. Spring and fall are the best planting times when the soil is workable. Pruning is recommended after flowering. It is hardy in Zones 4-9 and is not known for any serious pest or disease problems.
The Spice Bush is shipped bare root from Late November through April.
ReviewsPhoebe DeanNative, large, and healthy...what a find!Jackie
Spice Bush Yellow leavesThese were so nice. I finally found out what a spice bush was and the yellow fall color is beautiful. I like these very much
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