Lindera obtusiloba • Japanese spicebush

Lindera  • Spicebush  • クロモジ  • 黒文字  • kuro-moji

Lindera is already described on this blog, in a post from 3/26/12 containing 3 other plants;  this post is dedicated specifically to lindera.

We have only one Lindera obtusiloba in our Garden, normally hiding on the hill in the middle of area Z, and although that area was heavily cleared during the last few seasons it is still hard to see it, because it’s rather shady in that part of the Garden and the plant is nowhere close to the path. It is mainly in March, in the absence of color nearby that lindera’s  yellow star-like flowers command attention.

I should trek up that hill later in season, to observe and photograph the leaves of the tree, lobed (as the name suggests), glossy and aromatic, and often described as one of the most interesting features of the plant.


SJG • 3/21/14 – Lindera obtusiloba • Japanese spicebush, area Z, photographed from the East to West direction; the vase shaped, downhill leaning tree is best seen from the connector path – here covered in dainty yellow flowers and before leafing.


SJG • 3/21/14 – Lindera obtusiloba • Japanese spicebush, area Z, FLOWERS

From Great Plant Pics (great pic of the fall foliage at the link):  Outstanding Qualities
Japanese spicebush is a treasure for the Northwest garden. This uncommon large shrub grows in a wide, vase-like shape. Each leaf has a curious mitten-like shape that varies a little from leaf to leaf. Autumn transforms the plant into a glowing, golden yellow beacon. It is one of the few shrubs that develops excellent fall color even in shade. In late winter, tight clusters of bright yellow flowers open along the branches when few other shrubs are in bloom. Male and female flowers are borne on separate plants. Male plants have larger flowers, but female plants produce shiny black berries that hold on through late summer and fall. Use Japanese spicebush in open woodlands or bright shade. Good companion plants include Corylopsis pauciflora, any of the wonderful witchhazels, Mahonia nervosa and Taxus baccata ‘Repandens’.[…]

From Pleasant Run Nursery (Allentown, NJ): Japanese Spicebush is a beautiful large shrub with unusual, Sassafras-shaped leaves. They vary from ovate to single mitten to 2 thumb mitten shape, and are dark green with a bluish cast. The flowers are a delicate yellow in early March, followed by summer fruit which ripens from red to shiny black by fall. The leaves turn a beautiful clear yellow in fall, and since they hold their color well in shade, this is a great plant for woodland color. […]

From Heritage SeedlingsBeautiful tri-lobed, round leaves that recall Sassafras in appearance. Robust, shrubby growth, becoming wider than tall eventually. This plant “grows” on you every time you see it for its seasonal changes of color, its attractive large winter buds, its colorful fruit, and ease of care. […]

Ah, and it’s found to be medicinal, as well; from the  US National Library of Medicine: […] Suppression of mast-cell-mediated allergic inflammation by Lindera obtusiloba. […]  In this study, we investigated the effect of Lindera obtusiloba water extract (LOWE) on the mast-cell-mediated allergic inflammation and possible mechanism of action using in vitro and in vivo models. LOWE reduced histamine release from various types of mast cells activated by immunoglobulin E (IgE) or phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate and calcium ionophore A23187 (PMACI). 

If you read that far, here is a bonus pic from yesterday at the Garden: 3/21/14 – turtles sunning themselves up on the head stone of the Turtle Island (note the queue in the water):


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