Two things are a must for spring to be real to me: First, the white blossoms of shadbush sparkling an otherwise drab woods, which I haven’t seen yet.
And second, the sweet, sweet smell of spicebush, which is flavoring the air right now. Found blooming spicebush on the Back Moutnain Trail, photo at bottom, and further developed on a trail at Frances Slocum. Both delightful, even though today isn’t.
Common spicebush Facts
Common spicebush is a type of deciduous shrub that belongs to the laurel family. It originates from North America. Common spicebush grows on moderately moist, fertile soil in partial shade. It can be found in the moist woodlands, on the edges of the forests, along the streams, on the hillsides and in the marshes. Common spicebush is an understory plant that usually grows near the yellow poplar, highbush blueberry and elderberry. Common spicebush can be used in human diet, but it is usually cultivated in decorative purposes.
Interesting Common spicebush Facts:
Common spicebush is roundish shrub that develops several stems covered with hairs. It can reach 3 to 9 feet in height.
Common spicebush has brown or gray bark covered with lens-like pale markings on the surface.
Common spicebush produces elliptical leaves with pointed tips and entire margins. Leaves are alternately arranged on the branches, green on the upper side, slightly paler below. Color of the leaves changes into yellow during the autumn. Crushed leaves release pleasant, spicy aroma.
Common spicebush produces yellow, globular flowers arranged in clusters of 3 to 15 flowers. They grow close to the stem. Common spicebush is dioecious plant, which means that male and female flowers develop on separate plants.
Common spicebush blooms from March to April. Flowers appear on the naked branches (without leaves). Common spicebush is one of the first plants that bloom in the spring. Fragrant flowers attracts bees, that are responsible for the pollination of this plant.
Fruit of common spicebush is berry-like drupe. It is oval in shape, bright red colored and filled with one large seed. Fruit ripens during the autumn.
Common spicebush can be propagated via seed, cuttings and sprouts.
Fruit of common spicebush is important source of food for the American robins, grey catbirds, flycatchers, raccoons, white-tail deer and opossums.
People often cultivate common spicebush in their gardens to attract butterflies that lay eggs and feed on the leaves of this plant.
Fresh or dry fruit of common spicebush can be used as spice. Common spicebush has lemon-like, slightly peppery flavor that perfectly matches gingerbreads, rice puddings and ice-creams.
Twigs, leaves and fruit of common spicebush can be used for the preparation of tea.
Fresh twigs of common spicebush were used to tenderize the meat of game birds and old roosters in the past.
Native Americans used tea made of spicebush in treatment of cough, menstrual disorders and measles. Oil obtained from berries was used in treatment of arthritis.
Bark decoction of common spicebush can be used for the elimination of toxins from the body, in treatment of typhoid fever and intestinal worms. Poultice made of leaves, bark and berries can be used in treatment of rash, bruises, irritations and itch.
Common spicebush is perennial plant that can survive from 5 to 20 years in the wild.