Spicebush, found throughout all of Ohio, is usually found as an understory shrub of moist to wet woodlands that is one of the first shrubs to bloom, usually in late winter. Its twigs and branchlets, when scraped, emit a spicy fragrance.
Bright red fruits appear in late summer and early autumn on female shrubs, and are often quickly eaten by wildlife. Its dark green, glossy foliage, like that of Pawpaw, is unusual for woody plants that can thrive in full shade.
As a native of the Eastern United States, Spicebush can grow to 12 feet tall and 15 feet wide, when found under optimum conditions. As a member of the Laurel Family, it is related to Sassafras and other Spicebushes.
Planting Requirements - Spicebush strongly prefers permanently moist to wet soils that are rich and of variable pH, especially under shaded conditions. However, it adapts reasonably well to dry, average soils in sunny locations, where its growth will be more dense and less vigorous, but with better flowering and fruiting performance, the latter on female trees only. The fibrous root system transplants easily, and re-establishment after transplant shock is best remedied by copious amounts of water.
Potential Problems - Spicebush does not have any significant disease or pest problems. However, specimens found in the wild may have tip dieback and one or more entirely dead branches, the result of dry summers or extremely cold winters. However, basal sprouts or suckers from the roots quickly fill in the dead areas.