My latest photography project is to capture plants in their fall foliage. In the past I focussed on plants when they were blooming and neglected later phases of their lives. Tonight I processed photos taken a few days ago and realized I had taken photos of a large bush / small tree that I did not recognize. So I took a walk down the driveway, found the bush and picked a sample leaf to take back to the house.
I got out my identification books. It began to look like it was Spicebush (Lindera benzoin). The field guide stated the crushed leaf has a distinctive pleasing aroma. I crushed the leaf and smelled — expecting nothing. Oh my — what a wonderful fragrance!
Now wait a minute — I planted spicebush this past May. I looked through my photo files and found one photo of the bush I had planted.
Yes, the leaves looked the same. Okay, now for the real test. I decided to go outside in the dark (with a flashlight) and find a leaf on my planted spicebush. Oh dear, it dropped its leaves already. No, wait, there’s one small leaf left on the plant. I picked it and made the comparison. Same color (yellow and brown), same leaf shape and venation, and same fragrance!
I am thrilled to have found this more mature spicebush. All parts of the plant can be used medicinally and as a tea. Another name for it is “wild allspice” — one more indication of how to use spicebush.