Spicebushes are grown principally for the beauty of their fall foliage; early spring clusters of small, greenish yellow flowers on leafless shoots are attractive but not conspicuous. On female plants, fruit will follow the blossoms if a male plant is nearby. Best used at woodland edge or as space fillers. Need good drainage; tolerate some drought. The common name refers to the spicy odor of the crushed leaves.
L. benzoin. SPICEBUSH. US, MS, LS, CS; USDA 6-9. Native to woodlands of eastern U.S. Reaches 612 ft. tall and broad. Light green leaves are 35 in. long, half as wide. Yellow fall color and plant form are best in full sun; if plants are grown in shade, foliage color isn't as intense and habit is loose and open. Fruit (noticeable after leaf fall) is bright red, up to in. long. Host plant for the spicebush swallowtail butterfly.
L. obtusiloba. JAPANESE SPICEBUSH. US, MS; USDA 6-7. Native to Japan, China, Korea. To 1020 ft. tall, not quite as wide. Leaves are 5 in. long, 4 in. wide, occasionally lobed near the tip to give a mitten shape. Fall color is an exceptionally brilliant yellow that develops even in shade and holds for 2 weeks or more. Small (-in.-wide) red fruit eventually turns black.