Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) deserves to be better-known and far more widely planted! This native understory shrub bursts forth with tons of tiny yellow flowers in early spring - they sustain the earliest-to-emerge insects, as well as create a dreamy golden haze in the garden. The smooth, broad leaves comes soon after, and when broken, emit a deliciously spicy aroma. What's more is that these leaves serve as a vital food source for the larvae of the spicebush swallowtail butterfly. Come autumn, they turn a deep ochre color for yet another season of interest.
Spicebush is very shade tolerant and deer resistant, making it an ideal problem-solving plant for the pollinator gardener. Plant one and join the fan club for this all-too-underappreciated native plant.
Size: 6-12'/1.8-3.6m tall and wide (expect the shorter side in cooler climates, the larger side in milder areas)
Light: full sun (6+ hrs/day), Part sun (4-6 hrs/day). Can grow in deep shade but flowering will be compromised; will also attract few, if any, butterflies.
Hardiness: USDA zone 4-9 (Find your hardiness zone)
Pollinator value: Larval host for spicebush swallowtail; early spring blooms sustain native insects and bees.
Notable features: fragrant, deer resistant, shade tolerant, native.
Maintenance: Benefits from a good 2-3" layer of shredded bark mulch. Regular pruning is not required, but if you wish to prune, do so in early spring, just before the new growth begins to emerge. Thrives in moist to wet soils.
Pot size: one quart
Plant name: Lindera benzoin