Today I have a wonderful botanical surprise for you, but I also have to make a confession. Confessions first.
I saw this shrub on Monday with Loren, and couldn't figure out what it was. I should have known it instantly, but it had been so long since I'd seen any, that I didn't think about it.
The joke is on me, because there are dozens of these bushes just a mile from my house, but I didn't know it. I guess I've never been in this exact spot at the right time of year. Just goes to prove that you should never think you know some place just because you've seen it a few times.
So with no further disclaimers, I bring you Lindera benzoin, Spicebush.
It is the earliest shrub of the spring to bloom, with the small yellow blossoms opening before the leaves.
Here's what it looks like from a distance, just a messy bush with small yellow blobs.
The buds were still pretty tight on Monday, but by today, the flowers were wide open.
But the thing that kept ringing bells in my head until I figured it out was the spotted bark. The spots are lenticels, like pores in bark. For example, cherry bark is noted for having lenticels that make horizontal lines. White spots were screaming spicebush at me! Finally I heard them.
And the spice? Sorry, I can't provide that for you, but if you break a twig there is a spicy, pungent odor. That's what inspired the species name, "benzoin."
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