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ASpicebush Fall

ASpicebush Fall

ASpicebush Fall

Welcome to the office. The staff works hard, but they’re all too busy to take the time to network, which can hamper innovation. One woman reaches out to a former colleague, showing the light at the end of the tunnel.Ecologists refer to spicebush as a facultative wetland plant, which means it usually occurs in wetlands (estimated probability 67% – 99%), but occasionally found in non-wetlands. It is more abundant in soils that are slightly alkaline. You will rarely see this native shrub in home gardens, but it deserves consideration. It is fairly easy to grow, tolerates both acid and alkaline soil, and can tolerate a wide range of moisture conditions, including

Spicebush

If you’re out on a forest trail this month, keep an eye out for the clouds of yellow created by Lindera benzoin — our native spicebush — a deciduous shrub whose greenish-yellow blooms appear in March in Virginia. Lindera benzoin is remarkable not only for its spring and fall color, but also for its adaptability. It is not fussy about either soil moisture levels nor about pH nor about light. In nature, it is most often found along streams, in floodplains and ravines, but also in dryer upland forests, and is widely distributed throughout eastern North America and in Virginia. Indeed, the Virginia Native Plant Society named Lindera benzoin the native plant of the year in 2006. I highly recommend the essay that accompanied that award, VNPS Wildflower of the Year: Spicebush (Lindera benzoin).

Spicebush is a rounded shrub of 4′ to 12‘ high and equal spread. Its simple, eliptical green leaves emerge much later than its spring blooms, and become a showy golden yellow in autumn. If you’re wondering whether you’ve come upon a spicebush, crush some leaves or twigs, which produce a pleasant, spicy fragrance. The essential oil contained in the leaves, twigs, bark, and berries was traditionally used in folk medicine and as a substitute for allspice. The flowers on the female plant eventually turn into green drupes that mature into bright red berries in fall. Because this plant is dioecious, both male and female plants must be close enought to permit cross pollination to produce the berries. The attractive berries are hidden beneath the leaves, but are more visible after the leaves drop. Happily, disease and insects are not usually a problem. Some authorities consider it deer-resistant while others say it is sometimes browsed by deer. (Source: piedmontmastergardeners.org)

 

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