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From spring through fall, Spicebush will be a delight for you and for the wildlife you share your outdoor space with. March and April bring dainty yellow flowers pollinated by the earliest-emerging bees. Summer brings caterpillars, such as those that become the gorgeous Spicebush swallowtail butterfly. And fall brings glossy red berries loved by songbirds, such as robins, Wood Thrushes, vireos, flycatchers, catbirds, and kingbirds. The Veery, which doesn’t visit birdfeeders, is a huge fan of the fruit, and planting Spicebush is probably the best thing you can do to lure this cautious bird into your garden.
May Benefit & Attract: Thrushes, vireos, flycatchers, thrashers, and veeries
Take Birds Under Your Wing
New! Introducing our bird-friendly collection of Audubon® Native Plants & Trees
- Better for Birds, 100% Neonic-Free
- Not Available in non-native regions, states or counties (see Native Regions map)
Bower & Branch is proud to grow Audubon® Native Plants for Birds in partnership with the National Audubon Society to help birds and other wildlife thrive.
- The National Audubon Society protects birds and the places they need, today and tomorrow
- This bird-friendly native plant provides food and shelter for local and migrating birds and other wildlife
- Your purchase and planting of this native flora directly supports Audubon’s conservation mission and impact
- Learn how you can help birds in your home and community through Audubon’s Plants for Birds program
- Audubon Native Plants & Trees are free of neonicotinoids and exclusively grown by Bower & Branch
Audubon® is a licensed and registered trademark of the National Audubon Society. All rights reserved.
Size AA (18-24" tall) container grown
Size A (3' tall) container grown
- Hardiness Zone: 4-9
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Spicebush is a common understory plant in most of the eastern United States, from Maine to Florida and west to Michigan and Texas. Not coincidentally, this is where you’ll also find the dazzling Spicebush swallowtail butterfly. Its caterpillars are adorable. At first, they disguise themselves as inedible bird droppings. Later, they look like tiny snakes. You’ll spot them hiding in Spicebush leaves; they fold the edge over to make a little sleeping bag. Birds have apparently figured out this game, because you’ll often see wedge-shaped bite marks in the leaves with folds.
Autumn glory, too! Spicebush is radiant in fall when the pea-green leaves become a brilliant, clear yellow. It will light up the garden and direct birds to the ripe berries.
How to Grow
A forest-dweller by nature, Spicebush is happiest with just a few hours of direct sun each day. A site in dappled shade throughout the day is also great. Consistently moist soil will encourage the lushest foliage and fastest growth. Spicebush is typically a dioecious plant, which means that male and female flowers appear on separate plants. Fruit will only form on females, and only if a male is nearby for pollination. For the best chance of having tons of fruit for the birds, plant several specimens! You can never have too many Spicebushes.
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