Herb: Spice Bush

Latin name: Lindera benzoin

Synonyms: Benzoin aestivale, Laurus benzoin

Family: Lauraceae (Laurel Family)

Medicinal use of Spice Bush:

Spice bush has a wide range of uses as a household remedy, especially in the treatment of colds, dysentery and intestinal parasites. It warrants scientific investigation. The bark is aromatic, astringent, diaphoretic, febrifuge, stimulant and tonic. It is pleasant to chew. It is used in the treatment of coughs and colds. The bark can be harvested at any time of the year and is used fresh or dried. The fruits are carminative. The oil from the fruits has been used in the treatment of bruises and rheumatism. A tea made from the twigs was a household remedy for colds, fevers, worms and colic. A steam bath of the twigs is used to cause perspiration in order to ease aches and pains in the body. The young shoots are harvested during the spring and can be used fresh or dried. The bark is diaphoretic and vermifuge. It was once widely used as a treatment for typhoid fevers and other forms of fevers.

Description of the plant:


3 m
(9 3/4 foot)



Habitat of the herb:

Wet woods and by streams on sandy or peaty soils.

Edible parts of Spice Bush:

The young leaves, twigs and fruit contain an aromatic essential oil and make a very fragrant tea. The twigs are best gathered when in flower as the nectar adds considerably to the flavour. The dried and powdered fruit is used as a substitute for the spice "allspice". The fruit is about the size of an olive. The leaves can also be used as a spice substitute. The new bark is pleasant to chew.

Other uses of the herb:

The leaves contain small quantities of camphor and can be used as an insect repellent and disinfectant. An oil with a lavender-like fragrance is obtained from the leaves. The fruit, upon distillation, yield a spice-scented oil resembling camphor. An oil smelling of wintergreen is obtained from the twigs and bark.

Propagation of Spice Bush:

Seed - best sown as soon as it is ripe in the autumn in a greenhouse. The seed has a short viability and should not be allowed to dry out. Prick out the seedlings into individual pots when they are large enough to handle and grow them on in the greenhouse for their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, July in a frame. Cuttings of mature side-shoots, 10 - 12cm with a heel, September/October in a cold frame. They may root by spring. Fair to good percentage. Layering.

Cultivation of the herb:

Wet woods and by streams on sandy or peaty soils.

Known hazards of Lindera benzoin:

None known

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.