Native Plant Profile...
Spice Bush, also known as Benjamin-bush, Fever Bush, Snapwood, Spicewood,
and Wild Allspice, is a deciduous shrub with a spicy scent. One of the
first spring blooms in the woods, it is a member of the Laurel family .
Height: 6' - 15'
Spread: 6' - 12'
Leaf: Smooth, thick, oblong, light green, toothless, alternate in location. Aromatic when crushed.
Flowers: Green to yellow, appearing
before the leaves in March and April. Small about 1/10" in length. Some flowers are female, some male. Fragrant. Although small, blooms
in clusters give a larger effect. One of the first spring blooms in the woods.
Fruit: Oval in shape, 1/2” long, matures in the fall, turning from green to red when ripe. Aromatic. It is a fleshy, aromatic drupe. Hidden until the leaves drop.
Bark: Brown to gray brown and speckled with light colored lenticels
Growing Conditions: Can tolerate full sun to partial shade
Pests: No serious insect or disease problems.
Habitat: Found in moist woodlands
and by streams, Spice Bush can be planted as an ornamental in yards. Note:
If planting, make sure to plant both male and female plants to insure seed production. Can be planted as a hedge.
Wildlife Value: Leaves serve as the food source for the larva of
both the Spicebush Swallowtail Butterfly and Tiger Swallowtail. The
larva feed primarily on leaves at night and can be found at the underside of leaf.
Fruit Serves as Food for: Catbird, Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, Robin, Veery, Wood Thrush, Red-Eyed Vireo, Quail, and White-Throated Sparrows
Landscaping Notes: Low Maintenance, Good shrub to plant in a woodland garden, leaves in fall turn lemon yellow
Did you know? Early settlers considered the location of this plant as a sign of fertile soil. The twigs and leaves were used for tea and the dried berries were ground and used for spice in colonial times.
Sexes look alike.
Can get to 27” in length including a 6” dark brown tail.
Females are slightly smaller at 22” and often appear lighter in color
Has compact, chunky body with short legs.
Front feet have long curved claws allowing it to dig burrows.
Color of fur is brown-gray, sometimes grizzled. Occasionally albino groundhogs can be found.
Eyes, small ears and nose are located toward the top of the head, which allows them to view looking out of the burrow while remaining hidden.
Slow runner but can get get to its den when alerted.
Food: Plant material including clover, soybeans, grasses, vegetables. Will climb trees to get to apples and peaches. Will sometimes eat insects. Early morning and just before sunset are the preferred feeding times.
Habitat: Prefers open land, such as farmland. Burrows are located in fields, pastures, along fence rows, roads or the base of a tree. Burrows have a large mound of dug soil at the main hole. The opening is 10 to 12 inches in diameter. There are always two or more entrances to each groundhog home. Some of the other entrances are dug from below the ground so do not have dirt next to them. The burrow system serves as home to the animal for hibernating, hiding,
mating and raising young.
Life Span: Usually 1 year, but can live as long as 5 in the wild
Status in Maryland: Common
Natural History: Also known as
Woodchuck or Whistle Pig, this member of the rodent family is a true hibernator,
usually starting at the end of October to November and emerging in early spring
- late February or early March, when a male will begin to look for a mate.
Groundhog litters are produced in April, usually consisting of 4 to 5 blind and naked young. Young leave their mother after 2 months. Groundhog
are solitary except when mating and raising young. They are active in the daylight hours. When not eating,
the groundhog likes to sun bathe.
Vocals: Can whistle if alarmed; will chatter teeth, hiss, squeal or growl when angry.
Did You Know? Ground hog dens
provide homes for opossums, raccoons, skunks and foxes. Rabbits will use the
dens as escape cover.
Note: Ground hogs can cause damage to
backyard plantings and building foundations. If you are having problems you
should consult your state wildlife department. For Maryland residents
contact the wildlife hot line at 1-877-463-6497