Lindera benzoin (L.) Blume
Family - Lauraceae
Stems - Stems to 5m tall, multiple from the base. Twigs glabrous, olive-brown, with small lenticels.
Bark of stem.
Leaves - No info. yet.
Inflorescence - Staminate flowers in a few-flowered (4-8) fascicle, emerging with the new leaves. Pedicels glabrous, to 3mm long (slightly longer in fruit).
Flowers - Petals absent. Sepals 6, greenish-yellow to scarious-yellow, 2.3mm long, 1.5mm broad, glabrous, rounded at the apex, oblong-obovate. Stamens 9 (in staminate flowers), alternating with smaller capitate staminodes. Filaments glabrous, to 1.8mm long. All floral organs united at the base. Reduced ovary in staminate flowers to -1mm long. Drupe bright red, ovoid, to 1cm long, 5mm broad.
Flowering - March - May.
Habitat - Low moist woods, bottoms, thickets along streams, base of bluffs, seeps along wooded slopes.
Origin - Native to U.S.
Other info. - This shrubby species is easy to identify in the field because of its habitat and its pleasant fragrance. When crushed, the leaves give off a lemon scent that is reminiscent of "Pledge" furniture polish. The small flowers of the plant are some of the first to be seen in the spring. They are short lived and the plant is typically seen with just leaves or in fruit. This is a dioeceous species, meaning plants will have either male or female flowers. Staminate plants typically have many more flowers than pistillate plants.
Photographs taken in Brown Summit, NC., 10-5-02, and at Reform Conservation Area, Callaway County, MO., 3-22-04.