Northern Spicebush – Lindera benzoin

Northern Spicebush
Northern Spicebush

Found in wet woods and by streams through the eastern woodlands of North America, in March or early April this perennial bush can be found in flower. The flowers are small and translucent yellow.

Natives used a tea made from all parts of the plant to treat ailments such as coughs, cramps, measles, and anemia. It has a wide range of uses, which include colds, dysentery, and intestinal parasites. The bark, stems, and fruit can be used in herbal medicine.

The young leaves, twigs and fruit contain an aromatic oil that makes a very fragrant tea. If the twigs are gathered in flower, it adds to the flavor and aroma of the tea! The fruit (which is a red drupe) is gathered, dried, and powdered and then can be used as a substitute for allspice.

Spicebush Tea

8 ounces spicebush twigs (4″-6″ long)

2 tablespoons honey

2 1/2 quarts water

Take the spicebush twigs, stripping off any leaves.

Break the twigs into 4″-6″ lengths.

Place twigs in a three-quart pan and add the water.

Bring to a rolling boil, uncovered, for 25-30 minutes, until the tea takes on a slightly yellow coloration.

Strain the tea into a gallon jar, using a colander.

Add the honey and stir.

Serve hot.

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