Botanical Name:Lindera benzoin
Bloom Time:April, March
Bloom Description:The bright yellow flowers appear on clusters on the axils of this native shrub. They are sweetly fragrant and add color when winter is on its way out and not much else is in bloom.
Trail/Garden Location:East Terrace
Garden Uses:Spicebush can be used to naturalize an understory or woodland garden as well as adding an early-season interest to any garden.
Wildlife Benefits:Used as a forage source for birds and as a host plant for the spicebush swallowtail butterfly.
Leaf Type:The dark-green, ovate leaves can reach 3" long and turn a gorgeous golden yellow in the fall. The leaves have a spicy fragrance when bruised or crushed.
SPICEBUSH TEA TRANSCRIPT
NARRATOR: Ethnobotanist Justin Nolan describes the unique aroma and flavor of spicebush leaves and berries, and the many ailments for which spicebush tea has been used as a palliative.
JUSTIN NOLAN: Spicebush, Lindera benzoin. This is a well known member of the laurel family, many of which are aromatic, pleasant-smelling and evergreen. Spicebush is a moderately-sized shrub with bright yellow flower clusters. The shrub is found scattered in damp hardwood understories and in forest edges. Best-known for its savory, uniquely citrusy scent of its leaves and berries, or droops as they’re known by botanists, spicebush resembles lemons and oranges aromatically, with a hint of piney spice. Cherokees used the leaves of spicebush to steep a tasty tea-like beverage. Infusions of spicebush bark were used elsewhere throughout Native North America to combat measles, hives, and venereal diseases.
The Creek Indians cherished spicebush leaves and twigs in steam baths. These were designed to induce perspiration for aches and muscle soreness. Locally, Cherokees also revered spicebush as a powerful medicine. Its teas from the leaves and buds were known to strengthen the blood and to help combat female obstructions.