Clearing Briars from Our Spicebush Tree

We were hiking out past the pair of Appalachian spicebush trees that we harvest from most years, and I noticed that one of them was being swallowed up by brambles.

Spicebush is one of the 14 or more trees we enjoy in our foraging; the dried and ground berries are a fantastic spice for pies, and the flowers, new twigs, and leaves make a nice tea as well.

Read: Appalachian Spicebush Tea

Read: Appalachian Spicebush Peach Pie

Read: Appalachian Spiceberry Harvest

We missed harvesting the berries last year (you’re welcome, birds!) and I guess we also didn’t realize the thorny vines had climbed all the way up and were strangling almost half of the small-sized tree. This one is about 12-14 feet tall, which is about as tall as spicebushes ever get. They are primarily an understory tree.

Spicebush trees (Lindera benzoin) are either male or female, and since this one is male, it’s easier to overlook, not having any berries for us to pick. Also, our mountain seems to have far more male spicebushes than female, which may be due to the higher cost of reproduction for the females.

But we need both to have fruit, of course, and since the bramble-eaten male spicebush is near our main berry-mama tree, we carried some tools up and spent about an hour cutting, dragging out, and clearing away the briars.

I wish I’d taken a “before” photo, but here’s our newly cleaned out spicebush. You can see the little bird’s nest we were careful to not disturb, and you might be able to see the tiny yellow blooms all over the tree.

It turned out that we also needed to clear out a neighboring oak tree, because the vines had jumped over from up in those branches to tangle up the spicebush, too.

Beezus—who loves to show off for Lance and also loves to climb trees—got excited seeing Lance climb up in the oak to cut out stickers, and made her own bid for his attention.

Bee showing off for Lance
Bee showing off for Lance
The cats in the woods
The cats in the woods

3 comments on “Clearing Briars from Our Spicebush Tree

  1. Sherry Siddall

    How satisfying.

  2. Good work there. It had to feel satisfying.

Leave a Reply