Spice Bush (Lindera benzoin)

Botanical Name :Lindera benzoin

Family: Lauraceae
Genus : Lindera
Synonyms: Benzoin aestivale – Nees.,  Laurus benzoin – L.
Other Names :Wild Allspice, Spicebush, Common Spicebush, Northern Spicebush or Benjamin Bush
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Laurales
Species: L. benzoin

Habitat :Native to eastern North America, ranging from Maine to Ontario in the north, and to Kansas, Texas and northern Florida in the south. Eastern N. America – Maine and Ontario to Kentucky, Missouri and Kansas.Wet woods and by streams on sandy or peaty soils. Stream banks, low woods, margins of wetlands; uplands, especially with exposed limestone, from sea level to 1200 metres

Description:
Spicebush is a medium-sized deciduous shrub growing to 5 m tall, typically found only in the understory of moist thickets. The leaves are alternate, simple, 6–15 cm long and 2–6 cm broad, oval or obovate and broadest beyond the middle of the leaf. They are very aromatic when crushed, hence the common names and the specific epithet “benzoin.” The flowers grow in showy yellow clusters that appear in early spring, before the leaves begin to grow. The fruit is a berrylike red drupe about 1 cm long and is highly prized by birds. It has a peppery taste and scent, and contains a large seed.

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It is hardy to zone 5. It is in flower in April, and the seeds ripen from August to September. The flowers are dioecious (individual flowers are either male or female, but only one sex is to be found on any one plant so both male and female plants must be grown if seed is required)The plant is not self-fertile.
The plant prefers light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. The plant prefers acid and neutral soils and can grow in very acid soil. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland). It requires moist soil.

Edible Uses
Edible Uses: Condiment; Tea.

The young leaves, twigs and fruit contain an aromatic essential oil and make a very fragrant tea. The twigs are best gathered when in flower as the nectar adds considerably to the flavour. The dried and powdered fruit is used as a substitute for the spice ‘allspice’. The fruit is about the size of an olive. The leaves can also be used as a spice substitute. The new bark is pleasant to chew.

Medicinal Actions & Uses

Aromatic; Astringent; Diaphoretic; Febrifuge; Stimulant; Tonic.

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Spice bush has a wide range of uses as a household remedy, especially in the treatment of colds, dysentery and intestinal parasites. It warrants scientific investigation. The bark is aromatic, astringent, diaphoretic, febrifuge, stimulant and tonic. It is pleasant to chew. It is used in the treatment of coughs and colds. The bark can be harvested at any time of the year and is used fresh or dried. The fruits are carminative. The oil from the fruits has been used in the treatment of bruises and rheumatism. A tea made from the twigs was a household remedy for colds, fevers, worms and colic. A steam bath of the twigs is used to cause perspiration in order to ease aches and pains in the body. The young shoots are harvested during the spring and can be used fresh or dried. The bark is diaphoretic and vermifuge. It was once widely used as a treatment for typhoid fevers and other forms of fevers.

Other Uses
Disinfectant; Repellent.

The leaves contain small quantities of camphor and can be used as an insect repellent and disinfectant. An oil with a lavender-like fragrance is obtained from the leaves. The fruit, upon distillation, yield a spice-scented oil resembling camphor. An oil smelling of wintergreen is obtained from the twigs and bark.

Disclaimer:The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider

Resources:-

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lindera_benzoin

http://www.pfaf.org/database/plants.php?Lindera+benzoin

http://www.mobot.org/gardeninghelp/PlantFinder/Plant.asp?code=D890

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