Anyone growing Lindera benzoin?

Also called Appalachian allspice…

It’s a berry bearing shrub that was used during the civil war as an allspice substitute. I’ve tried the berries and found them interesting.

Anyone know if the dried fruit are still viable if they are not dried out? I have a few ounces of them but they are probably about 5 years old.

I probably should just try winter sowing a pot or two and seeing if something comes up.


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Seeds are available from the National Arboretum

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I have a few in my yard for butterflies and birds. They are exceedingly common in edge of the wood settings in my area. I wouldn’t eat the berries myself, tried once and regretted it (yucky). Birds/wildlife strip them pretty fast, so they don’t have a chance to dry on the bush.

I was going to start a thread with this exact title - glad I searched!

I have three of these purchased from a local natives nursery. This is their second summer in the ground.
I’ve found them to be rather sensitive. They grow here in moist shady areas (often under pawpaws!) but I’d read they can tolerate sun.
I fear the spot I planted them is too shallow-soiled and tends to dry out. I dug a swale to help.
They get some afternoon sun and while they tolerate it, they don’t seem to like it very much (I put up shade cloth last year).
However - if you dry/dehydrate the berries, they are EXCEPTIONAL as a baking spice in my opinion. I crave the flavor all year round.
It’s similar to a chai-spice flavor with a hint of pink peppercorn/citrus.
I highly recommend folks try them as a spice.
As mentioned above, they are not fit for fresh consumption (there essentially is no flesh, just skin and seed).


Before I start Googling-
Anyone know if spicebush can be propagated via conventional or air layering?

As a side note, I’m excited to try grafting some wild female scions onto my male bush to get some fruits.
One of my three plants (a male) died and the other one has yet to flower.

I have some seeds I plan to sow in the spring but if I could layer some wild plants that’d be better.


Sources online indicate it can be layered. I didn’t see mention of air layering but several results showed air layering for a different Lindera species.
I guess can’t hurt to try both. We’ll see…

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Good luck trying that out! I may try grafting some at some point. They seem to grow so easily and quickly from seed that I’m not sure I’d even bother with layering if that is a possibility. Knowing for sure that you have a male or female is a big benefit though. Takes 2 years from seed before I can tell from flowers. I love spicebush for the wildlife value they provide!

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Hey @TJ_westPA!

Oh it’s cool to know you have experience growing these from seed. This will be my first time.

I have actually just finished relocating the 2 bushes i have. They got a lot of late afternoon sun and it really seemed to be bad for them. I know in the wild they grow in the understory in mostly moist areas, but all the internet stuff says they can do full sun just fine. Not sure what that’s all about.
It was not the most moist soil where I had them but they were well mulched.

Do you find them to be slow growing? If you get flowers in 2 years you must not. As I mentioned, one of mine has not even flowered and it’s well over 2 years.
Mine have been very pokey and, as i can see from transplanting, did not seem to have rooted-in very much in 2 years.
Suffice it to say i am having a hard time growing them :slight_smile:

But i am just crazy about the flavor of the berries as a spice. My wife rolls her eyes every fall when i am asking her to put it in everything :sweat_smile:

I’m also a fan of the flavor of the spice berries. I ordered pawpaws from Integration Acres for a couple years (before my pawpaws had started producing) and each time I also added a package of the dried spiceberries.

I wonder just how long the seeds in the whole berries remain viable…


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Yeah I noticed a while back that Integration Acres sells them. Definitely a good source for folks who can’t forage them.

I don’t know about the seed viability question. For my seeds i cleaned them right away and have them in moist stratification.

From “ Seeds of woody plants in United States“

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Mine grow in full sun from seed and don’t have any issues with it, whereas my pawpaws get burnt to a crisp if grown in full sun the first couple years. That might have to do with mine being from a zone colder than you are or maybe just the genetics of the source you got them from.

The seeds that I grew almost 3 years ago I had planted in ground in an amended seed plot and then I dug them up the next spring (last year) and put them in 7 gallon fabric pots. They were just twigs when I dug them up but the root systems were really impressive, with lots of fibrous roots in a big mass. They did well this way and had some nice top growth and developed the dormant flower buds that fall.
I also grew a few from seed in small pots last year but those grew much more slowly. It was very dry last summer though, as compared to 3 years ago when we had a really wet year. So, I think they can grow quickly given enough space, fertilizer, and ample water.

Maybe the precociousness of my plants is due to the fact that I dug mine up and forced them to slow down their root growth by putting them in pots, therefore they put more energy into top growth and reproduction afterwards.

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Yeah I don’t know what my problem is/was…I assumed it was the morning shade and hot afternoon sun combined with not-especially-wet soil.

Your results give me hope that direct sowing seeds will be successful.

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Here , in western West Virginia, spice bush grows on “north facing “hillsides , under tulip poplar, maple, walnut, full-shade and forest gaps , edges . So moist and shady.
None to rare on south facing hillsides that are mostly oak.

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:+1:Right…it’s basically the same here. but apparently they can be grown in full sun and don’t even require shade in the early stages like a pawpaw…

It’s all over the place in the understory here, most prominent along the creeks.
I have one with yellow-orange fruits; have not grown any from seed to see if female offspring also have xanthocarpic fruit.

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Oh nice!
Is that one wild or a seedling you grew?
Does it taste any different?

Wild; I just happened to notice it on the creekbank while walking the creekbed looking for arrowheads.
I’ve never eaten, or considered eating spicebush fruits.

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ok gotcha! :+1:

I plan to attempt grafting a female scion onto a branch of a male bush.

Anyone grafted Lindera before?

My only experience is pawpaws.
Thus, I planned to wait until temps get more steadily in the 80s (late May) then go for a cleft graft.

However, I’m tempted to do it now, based on the fact that spicebush wakes up much earlier than pawpaw. They’ve been leafed out and going strong for a month or so already…