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Friday, March 23, 2012


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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betchai said...

your first photo is so beautifully composed, so love it. thanks for sharing the other photos that help us see and learn more about this plant.

Ann said...

Pretty yellow buds on that. A nice welcome for spring.

rainfield61 said...

The first is really beautiful.

And you managed to discover a new beauty from a same old corner.

That's great.

gallerydarrow said...

The firs shot is so beautiful in the gray mist and I love the name. No such thing in California. Thanks for sharing!!


Sharkbytes said...

betchai- Thank you! It came out better than I had hoped. It was raining, and the gray river made a nice background.

Ann- Today it feels more like spring should. Damp and 50s

rainfield- I like how the branches just seem to fly back into the distance!

ro- Yeah, the plants are so different there, I would be completely lost!

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