Squirrels, Birds, Butterflies, Bees, Other Showy Insects
A tea can be made from the aromatic leaves and twigs. The dried and powdered fruit can be used as a spice. (Niering)
The berries have been used as a substitute for allspice.
Spicebush is often an understory plant, meaning it grow under larger shrubs and trees in forests. It is almost always found underneath yellow poplar.
Aboriginal peoples used this plant for medicinal purposes. (Flora of North America)
Habitat Information: Its natural habitat is moist thickets, woods near water, or less commonly in upland areas like stream bank edges, or well drained open meadows and dunes. This plant has sporadic occurrences around Belleville region, Ontario, as well as the Bruce Peninsula, and east of Hamilton, Ontario. (Soper & Heimburger, 1994)
An identifying characteristic, is that this bush has very pungent spicy smelling leaves, and bright red berries. (Evergreen)
Woodland game birds and song birds are attracted by the seeds and help disperse them. (Illinois Wildflowers)
Garden Uses: The leaves are thick, dark green and glossy and the red berries are great for winter interest, as they persist into winter after the leaves have fallen. It is a medium sized shrub, no more than 5 feet high, so is suitable for smaller gardens, although quite wide in habit. In its natural habitat, it grows in groves. Its yellow flowers are unique in that they come out before the leaves in the spring. (Evergreen)
Insect Relationships: Small bees and various flies are pollinators. Butterfly caterpillars Papilio troilus (spicebush swallowtail), Callosamia promethea (promethea moth), and Epimecis hortaria (tulip tree beauty) eat the leaves. Long horned beetle, Oberea ruficollis (sassafras borer) grubs. (Illinois Wildflowers).
Traditional Edible, Medicinal Uses: Spicebush has twigs, fruit and leaves that contain aromatic oil and can make a fragrant tea. The twigs gathered when the plant is in flower are more flavourful because the nectar adds to the flavour. Fruit is olive sized, and can be used to treat bruises and the oil can be used for rheumatism. Tea from twigs, has been used to treat colds, fevers, worms and colic. Shoots have been used fresh or dried. Bark is diaphoretic and vermifuge, and once was widely used for typhoid and other fevers. (Plants for a Future)
Other Uses: Disinfectant, repellant camphor posessing leaves can be good for repelling insects. Distilled oil from fruit yields spice scented oil resembling camphor. Oil from twigs and bark smells of wintergreen. (Plants for a Future)
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