Foraging Pittsburgh

Wild Food Walks, Workshops, & Guided Nature Hikes

Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) – A Fragrant Edible & Medicinal Plant

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Spicebush (Lindera benzoin) isn’t your ordinary wild plant.  It’s a bit different than the other species on the trail.

How so, you may be asking?

Well, spicebush smells like heaven.

Okay, it doesn’t quite smell like lilacs or roses, though it does emit a pleasant perfume whenever rubbed or crushed… much better than any store-bought synthetic fragrance I’ve ever had the unfortunate experience of smelling…

Anyway, I encourage you to taste this plant.  You can make infusions (“teas”) from the twigs and leaves, and you can eat the fruits fresh.

Extracts from the bark have been shown to demonstrate anti-microbial and anti-fungal effects, especially against the fungus Candida albicans (Letters in Applied Microbiology 2008).  Spicebush also contains a compound known as laurotetanine — an alkaloid with potent anti-viral effects (Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences 2006).

Spicebush… who woulda thought?  Check it out on your next walk!  The fruits will ripen for several weeks into autumn.

(This photo was taken in North Park, Allegheny County Pennsylvania.)


Author: Adam

Wild foodist

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