Spicebush, A Warm Fall Woodland Spice

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Spicebush berries and leaves
Spicebush berries and leaves (Photo By: Cody Hough, college student and photographer in the Michgian area)

Spicebush(Lindera benzoin) is a shrub native to north eastern United States.  It is a common woodland shrub that can be identified easily by the fragrance of its crushed leaves.  The leaf shape is difficult to distinguish, especially for beginners.  This plant produces red berries in summer which is a prized item for wildlife.  The species is dioecious which means that male and female plants exist and berries only form on female plants.

Edibility and Culinary Use

The leaves and berries of this plant can be eaten raw or cooked.  A tea can be made from all parts of this plant, most commonly twigs and leaves, it has a refreshing flavor and texture.  Also the berries that ripen in early fall have a taste similar to allspice, it is a warm spice that can be used in baking and pies.  They are usually used fresh or frozen for later use.  The leaves can also be eaten raw, usually as a condiment, and the young bark is said to be good to chew on.

Health Benefits

This plant is known for its use in the treatment of colds, fevers, dysentery, and internal parasites.  This safe plant with no knows hazards is a traditional medicine of the Native Americans and is known for its powerful health benefits.  This plant should be studied more for its beneficial compounds.

Conclusion

This is a safe and delicious plant that is typically hidden away in the forests of the North East.  But it is easy to find in the under story of the woods since it only grows about 5’ tall.  Yet another plant that is often underappreciated and undervalued by most people, adding this plant to your diet will be a great experience with good health benefits.



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