Ozarks Flowering Tree: Spicebush

Picture of flowers of Spicebush, Lindera benzoin, a shrub that grows in the Missouri Ozarks.

Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) has tiny yellow flower clusters that bloom along the stem.


Okay, not a tree, but a small shrub. Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) is  about waist to head high, sometimes a bit sprawling. You’ll probably never even notice it except that it has these tiny brilliant lemon yellow clusters of flowers along the branches.

It’s easy to confuse it with Sassafras as they both have tiny flower clusters that are a bright yellowish green color. But Sassafras blooms on the ends of the branches, Spicebush blooms along the stem.

Picture of a branch Spicebush, Lindera benzoin, showing the flower clusters along the branches. Taken at Bell Mountain Wilderness.

Found along a stream in Bell Mountain Wilderness, this example of Spicebush shows how the flowers bloom in clusters along the stem.

The name Spicebush, and the species name benzoin, come from the fact that the foliage is aromatic when crushed. The berries are edible and highly priced by birds in the fall. The bushes grow in moist areas in the understory of forests and river drainages.

Picture of Spicebush, Lindera benzoin, branch with flowers. It grows along creek beds in Bell Mountain Wilderness in the Ozarks.

You can see the sprawling nature of Spicebush. Picture taken along a creek bed in March 2012 at Bell Mountain Wilderness.

What do you think?