Plants and People Project

Spicebush - Lindera benzoin

Native Americans made a tea from the leaves, bark and twigs. The berries were used for colic. Oil from the berries was rubbed on the skin for rheumatism. A tea made from the leaves was used as a medicine for women. The leaves are highly aromatic and release a pleasant fragrance when crushed.

Settlers dried the red berries. They used them as a substitute for Allspice. Medicinal Plants

"Pioneers called this plant fever bush because a strong bark decoction makes you sweat, activating the immune system and expelling toxins. They used it for typhoid and other fevers, and to expel worms." Identifying and Harvesting Edible and Medicinal Plants

It is a lovely ornamental bush and grows wild in many places in the Eastern United States.

Deer find spicebush distasteful. Pizzo & Associates, Ltd.

Insects are attracted to the nectar of the flowers. Birds and mammals are attracted to the small red fruits called dupes. The leaves are a larval food (host plant) for swallowtail butterflies.

spice bush berries

unripe spicebush berries

DISCLAIMER: These pages are presented solely as a source of INFORMATION and ENTERTAINMENT. No claims are made for the efficacy of any herb nor for any historical herbal treatment. In no way can the information provided here take the place of the standard, legal, medical practice of any country. Additionally, some of these plants are extremely toxic and should be used only by licensed professionals who have the means to process them properly into appropriate pharmaceuticals. One final note: many plants were used for a wide range of illnesses in the past. Be aware that many of the historical uses have proven to be ineffective for the problems to which they were applied.

Identification and other facts / More facts

Spicebush blossoms

spicebush yellow flower

spicebush leaves


spicebush in fall yellow

Spicebush turns a sunny yellow in the fall

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Posted 7/25/05 Cindy O'Hora