Spicebush Information: Learn About Growing A Spicebush Plant
The term “spice bush” refers to any evergreen shrub or small tree that produces fragrant flowers during the spring and summer months. These plants are native to tropical regions of South America, but they have been cultivated throughout much of the world since ancient times. Today, there are many varieties of spice bushes available worldwide, with some having very different characteristics than others. There are two main types of spice bushes: those that produce large, showy flowers (which are called linderas) and those that produce smaller, less conspicuous flowers (called noches).
Linderas are commonly used as houseplants because their bright colors attract attention. Nochees, however, tend to grow better in low light conditions.
In general, the larger the flower size of a spice bush species, the more attractive it will be to humans. However, not all spice bushes are created equal when it comes to flower size. Some species produce flowers that are only slightly bigger than a dime; others may be several inches across!
Some spice bush species have been bred to increase their flowering time so they bloom earlier in the year. For example, some species of the genus Rubiaceae (such as the Brazilian pepper) often bloom in late winter or early spring. They can help give a small garden an interesting pop of color at times when few other plants are in bloom.
The profusion of flowers on some of the larger species (such as the Brazilian pepper) can produce enough nectar to feed large colonies of bees and butterflies. These large flowers also serve as a food source for hummingbirds. (Many spice bushes are even more appealing to hummers than some types of honeysuckle! However, they don’t have the sweet scent that honey suckers prefer.)
Some types of spice bushes, such as those belonging to the genus Canella, are popularly used for cooking. (These would be the cinnamon trees of the family.) They are often harvested by park staffs and other land managers so they don’t overwhelm their habitat with large amounts of seedlings.
The seedlings of some types of spice bushes are edible and have a nutty taste. Many species can be used as lumber, although most are generally not as commercially viable for this purpose as some other tree species.
Spice bushes are popular landscape plants in many parts of the world because of their gorgeous flowers, attractive foliage, and pleasant scent. They are generally easy to care for as long as they are planted in fertile, well-draining soil. While they can tolerate full sun, they will grow better if they receive some shade during the hottest part of the day. Most species prefer a minimum of three hours of shade.
If you would like to grow one of these species from seed, it’s best to start them inside during the late winter or early spring before their growing season begins.
Spice bushes can be prone to infestation by damaging insects such as aphids and scale. They can also get sick from fungal diseases such as gray mold and root rot, especially during the fall and winter months. To protect them from pests, provide them with a good layer of mulch around their base when the weather turns cold.
If you decide to grow one of these species, be sure to pick one that will fit in your particular growing conditions.
Sources & references used in this article:
Spicebush and sassafras as new North American hosts of andromeda lace bug, Stephanitis takeyai (Hemiptera: Tingidae). by AG Wheeler Jr – Proceedings of the Entomological Society of …, 1977 – cabdirect.org
Extraction and antimicrobial activity of spicebush volatile oil. by XY Zhang, WQ Qin, LX Yu – Progress in Modern Biomedicine, 2010 – cabdirect.org
Eleven polymorphic microsatellite loci in Lindera benzoin, Lauraceae by MJ Edwards, RA Niesenbaum – Molecular Ecology Notes, 2007 – Wiley Online Library
Essential Oil Components in Plant Organs of Japanese Spicebush by JP Baek, KW Park, LE Craker – Planta Medica, 2009 – thieme-connect.com
The correct name for the Korean willow-leaved spicebush. by JMH Shaw – Hanburyana, 2013 – cabdirect.org
inpaws journal by J Marshall – Restoration – indiananativeplants.org
PhytoBeta imager: a positron imager for plant biology by MG Hohmann, WA Wall – 2016 – US Army Engineer Research and …