Native plants provide beauty as well as food and shelter for wildlife. Native species are adapted to the Illinois climate. They require little or no watering and are resistant to drought, insects and most diseases. Because they are perennials, you can welcome their presence year after year.
spicebush (Lindera benzoin)
Photo © Illinois Department of Natural Resources
Spicebush is a shrub that thrives naturally in rich, moist woods in the southern half of Illinois. It prefers to grow in full sun or partial shade. The leaves are simple, alternate, up to six inches long and three inches wide. The yellow flowers open in spring before the leaves appear. Blooming occurs from March to May, with the flowers arranged in clusters along the stems. Male and female flowers are on separate plants. The red fruits are about three-eighths to one-half inch long and have a slight indentation at the tip. All parts of this plant, including the flowers and fruits, have a spicy aroma. The spicebush swallowtail butterfly (Papilio troilus) lays eggs on this plant, and its larvae feed on the leaves. Songbirds and upland game birds eat the fruits. Deer and other mammals feed on the shrub as well.
Classification and taxonomy are based on Mohlenbrock, Robert H. 2014. Vascular flora of Illinois: A field guide. Fourth edition. Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale. 536 pp.