Lindera benzoin Spicebush1

Edward F. Gilman 2

Introduction

A large shrub, reaching a 10 foot height and spread, spicebush is so named because of its pleasing aroma when bruised (Fig. 1). When planted in a sunny location, spicebush will turn a lovely yellow in the fall but when grown in the shade will not be as colorful or grow as densely. The flowers are insignificant, and fruits form only on female plants.

Figure 1. Spicebush
Figure 1.  Spicebush

General Information

Scientific name: Lindera benzoin
Pronunciation: lin-DEER-ruh ben-ZOE-in
Common name(s): spicebush
Family: Lauraceae
Plant type: shrub
USDA hardiness zones: 4B through 9A (Fig. 2)
Planting month for zone 7: year round
Planting month for zone 8: year round
Planting month for zone 9: year round
Origin: native to Florida
Uses: border; naturalizing; foundation; mass planting; attracts butterflies
Availability: somewhat available, may have to go out of the region to find the plant

Figure 2. Shaded area represents potential planting range.
Figure 2.  Shaded area represents potential planting range.

Description

Height: 6 to 10 feet
Spread: 6 to 12 feet
Plant habit: round
Plant density: dense
Growth rate: slow
Texture: medium

Foliage

Leaf arrangement: alternate
Leaf type: simple
Leaf margin: entire
Leaf shape: obovate
Leaf venation: pinnate
Leaf type and persistence: fragrant
Leaf blade length: 4 to 8 inches
Leaf color: green
Fall color: yellow
Fall characteristic: showy

Flower

Flower color: yellow
Flower characteristic: spring flowering

Fruit

Fruit shape: oval
Fruit length:.5 to 1 inch
Fruit cover: fleshy
Fruit color: red
Fruit characteristic: showy

Trunk and Branches

Trunk/bark/branches: not particularly showy; typically multi-trunked or clumping stems
Current year stem/twig color: brown
Current year stem/twig thickness: thin

Culture

Light requirement: plant grows in part shade/part sun; plant grows in the shade
Soil tolerances: occasionally wet; acidic; alkaline; sand; loam; clay
Drought tolerance: moderate
Soil salt tolerances: unknown
Plant spacing: 36 to 60 inches

Other

Roots: usually not a problem
Winter interest: no special winter interest
Outstanding plant: not particularly outstanding
Invasive potential: not known to be invasive
Pest resistance: no serious pests are normally seen on the plant

Use and Management

More of a naturalizing plant used in reclamation, spicebush could be brought into the residential or commercial landscape for its nice fall color. It is a large shrub best saved for large scale landscapes, or in the back of a shrub border to be featured in the fall foliage color season.

Although considered difficult to transplant from a field nursery, spicebush has few serious disease problems. There should be little problem establishing the plant from a container.

Pests and Diseases

Few problems warrant concern.

Footnotes

1. This document is FPS-345, one of a series of the Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension. Original publication date October 1999. Reviewed February 2014. Visit the EDIS website at https://edis.ifas.ufl.edu.
2. Edward F. Gilman, professor, Environmental Horticulture Department, UF/IFAS Extension, Gainesville, FL 32611.

Publication #FPS-345

Date: 2015-08-12
Shrubs Fact Sheets

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Contacts

  • Gail Hansen de Chapman