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Lindera benzoin - (L.)Blume.

Common Name Spice Bush, Northern spicebush, Bush Northern Spice
Family Lauraceae
USDA hardiness 4-9
Known Hazards None known
Habitats Wet woods and by streams[184] on sandy or peaty soils[149]. Stream banks, low woods, margins of wetlands; uplands, especially with exposed limestone, from sea level to 1200 metres[270].
Range Eastern N. America - Maine and Ontario to Kentucky, Missouri and Kansas.
Edibility Rating    (3 of 5)
Other Uses    (3 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (3 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade
Lindera benzoin Spice Bush, Northern spicebush, Bush Northern Spice

Lindera benzoin Spice Bush, Northern spicebush, Bush Northern Spice


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Bloom Color: Green, Yellow. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Oval, Rounded.

Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Lindera benzoin is a deciduous Shrub growing to 3 m (9ft) by 3 m (9ft) at a slow rate.
See above for USDA hardiness. It is hardy to UK zone 5. It is in flower in April, and the seeds ripen from August to September. The species is dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required). . The plant is not self-fertile.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: mildly acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland). It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map


Benzoin aestivale. Laurus benzoin.

Plant Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Shady Edge;

Edible Uses

Edible Parts:
Edible Uses: Condiment  Tea

The young leaves, twigs and fruit contain an aromatic essential oil and make a very fragrant tea[55, 62, 95, 102, 149, 183]. The twigs are best gathered when in flower as the nectar adds considerably to the flavour[183]. The dried and powdered fruit is used as a substitute for the spice 'allspice'[2, 46, 55, 62, 95, 183]. The fruit is about the size of an olive[245]. The leaves can also be used as a spice substitute[55]. The new bark is pleasant to chew[183].

References   More on Edible Uses

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Aromatic  Astringent  Diaphoretic  Disinfectant  Dysentery  Febrifuge  Stimulant  Tonic

Spice bush has a wide range of uses as a household remedy, especially in the treatment of colds, dysentery and intestinal parasites[222, 238]. It warrants scientific investigation[222]. The bark is aromatic, astringent, diaphoretic, febrifuge, stimulant and tonic[61, 149, 227, 257]. It is pleasant to chew[227]. It is used in the treatment of coughs and colds[257]. The bark can be harvested at any time of the year and is used fresh or dried[238]. The fruits are carminative[222]. The oil from the fruits has been used in the treatment of bruises and rheumatism[222]. A tea made from the twigs was a household remedy for colds, fevers, worms and colic[222]. A steam bath of the twigs is used to cause perspiration in order to ease aches and pains in the body[257]. The young shoots are harvested during the spring and can be used fresh or dried[238]. The bark is diaphoretic and vermifuge. It was once widely used as a treatment for typhoid fevers and other forms of fevers[213, 222].

References   More on Medicinal Uses

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Other Uses

Disinfectant  Repellent

The leaves contain small quantities of camphor and can be used as an insect repellent and disinfectant[169]. An oil with a lavender-like fragrance is obtained from the leaves[245]. The fruit, upon distillation, yield a spice-scented oil resembling camphor[245]. An oil smelling of wintergreen is obtained from the twigs and bark[245].

Special Uses

Food Forest  Scented Plants

References   More on Other Uses

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Border, Pest tolerant, Massing, Woodland garden. Requires a lime-free rather moist soil[200] with a pH in the range 4.5 - 6[238]. Prefers partial shade or dappled sunlight in a fertile moisture-retentive soil enriched with leafmould[200]. Succeeds in full sun or semi-shade[184]. Plants are hardy to about -25°c[184]. The leaves, bark and berries are very aromatic[182, 213]. Plants can be pruned right back to the base if required, though any drastic pruning is best spread over several seasons[200]. Plants in this genus are notably resistant to honey fungus[200]. The fruit has a high fat content and is much eaten by migratory birds to supply their high energy demands when migrating[274]. Dioecious, male and female plants must be grown if seed is required[188, 238]. Special Features:Attracts birds, North American native, Fragrant foliage, Wetlands plant, Attracts butterflies, Attractive flowers or blooms. The plant is heat tolerant in zones 8 through 1. (Plant Hardiness Zones show how well plants withstand cold winter temperatures. Plant Heat Zones show when plants would start suffering from the heat. The Plant Heat Zone map is based on the number of "heat days" experienced in a given area where the temperature climbs to over 86 degrees F (30°C). At this temperature, many plants begin to suffer physiological damage. Heat Zones range from 1 (no heat days) to 12 (210 or more heat days). For example Heat Zone. 11-1 indicates that the plant is heat tolerant in zones 11 through 1.) For polyculture design as well as the above-ground architecture (form - tree, shrub etc. and size shown above) information on the habit and root pattern is also useful and given here if available. The plant growth habit is multistemmed with multiple stems from the crown [1-2]. The root pattern is a heart root, dividing from the crown into several primary roots going down and out [1-2].

References   Carbon Farming Information and Carbon Sequestration Information

Temperature Converter

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Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees,Edible Shrubs, Woodland Gardening, and Temperate Food Forest Plants. Our new book is Food Forest Plants For Hotter Conditions (Tropical and Sub-Tropical).

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Plant Propagation

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a greenhouse. The seed has a short viability and should not be allowed to dry out[200]. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July in a frame[200]. Cuttings of mature side-shoots, 10 - 12cm with a heel, September/October in a cold frame. They may root by spring. Fair to good percentage[78]. Layering.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

NORTHERN AMERICA: Canada, Ontario (south), United States, Connecticut, Indiana, Maine (south), Massachusetts, Michigan (south), New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, Illinois, Kansas (southeast), Missouri (south), Oklahoma, Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida , Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Texas,

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Lindera assamica Tree0.0 -  LMHSM002
Lindera glaucaGrayblue SpicebushShrub5.0 5-9  LMHSNM212
Lindera megaphylla Tree10.0 7-10  LMHSM001
Lindera obtusiloba Shrub6.0 5-9  LMHSM201
Lindera praecox Shrub7.5 8-11  LMHSM002
Lindera pulcherrima Tree7.0 -  LMHSM002
Lindera strychnifolia Shrub9.0 -  LMHSM02 
Lindera umbellata Shrub3.0 6-9  LMHSNM102

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.


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Botanical References


Links / References

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Readers comment

Louis Michot   Tue May 8 2007

We call this the "Carencro Bush" here in South Lousiana, and make tea of the stems.

   Mar 29 2014 12:00AM

The bark on this shrub peels off in narrow strips in late winter/early spring. Please don't make the same mistake I did and cut it back in effort to stop the bark peeling process and/or because you mistakenly think that it died during the winter. For now, I can only hope that it is a forgiving shrub.

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