Spicebush sex: Hazy woods lead to dusty revelation

Probably not Forsythia blooming in the woods in early spring.

Probably not Forsythia blooming in the woods in early spring.

In the 45mph garden about now:

Every day on the way to work I drive along the edge of a State park. There's a haze of yellow back in the woods in spring and I always wonder what it is. Forsythia? - J.C. -

 

Not Forsythia but the native spicebush, Lindera benzoin.

Thanks for bringing this up! Recently we had an email asking about spicebush, and the time to answer it is coming up soon, in that yellow haze:

I recently purchased a spice bush from a native retailer and asked him if I needed a male and female and he told me no. The more I research, I realize I definitely do.  I purchased one tree. I don't know how to tell if it's male or female...will it still flower and like you said if it's male it will  have pollen...? Please help... thanks. - A -

In species like holly (Ilex), grapeholly (Mahonia), paw paw (Asimina), Ginkgo and spicebush (Lindera) where there are separate male and female plants, both plants bloom. The male flowers produce pollen. The female flowers produce fruit.

So look at your plant when it's in bloom. if it has pollen, it's male. Female flowers do not develop pollen; a female may begin developing fruit even in the absence of a male. However, without sufficient pollination, that fruit will likely be aborted.

Once you know the sex of your plant, get over to a nursery, examine those plants in bloom and obtain a mate.

Spicebush is our guess. Lindera benzoin, native of low wet woods.

Spicebush is our guess. Lindera benzoin, native of low wet woods.

The flowers are not as showy as Forsythia.

The flowers are not as showy as Forsythia.

If you're looking to grow spicebush for the fragrant fruit, you'll need a at least one male plant for your and female(s) that bear the fruit. Check the early spring flowers to determine the sex. If pollen develops (arrow) the plant

If you're looking to grow spicebush for the fragrant fruit, you'll need a at least one male plant for your and female(s) that bear the fruit. Check the early spring flowers to determine the sex. If pollen develops (arrow) the plant