Spicebush berries

Berries on spicebush plants are now fully mature. Migrating birds love them, as do bears and other woodland animals. The berries are fairly fatty so they help animals to stock up on energy for either migration or hibernation. The spicebush plants have presumably timed the ripening of their fruits to coincide with the surge of migrant birds that are now moving through our forests.

I sampled a few berries and they taste like a cross between allspice and liquorice, neither of which are high on my list of flavor preferences but then I’m not a wood thrush or a bear. The aftertaste lingers and matures into a sharp cayenne. According to Foster and Duke’s Medicinal Plants and Herbs, Native Americans used tea from the berries for coughs and other ailments and they squeezed oil from the berries to rub into rheumatic joints.

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