Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Bog Spicebush - Lindera subcoriacea   B.E. Wofford
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Section 4 » Order Laurales » Family Lauraceae
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AuthorB.E. Wofford
DistributionEssentially only in the Sandhills, the adjacent Coastal Plain to the east, and the eastern Piedmont close to the Fall Line, north to Chatham, Wake, and Johnston counties. It ranges east to Johnston, Cumberland, and Robeson counties, and west only to Montgomery and Anson counties.

This species has a small range, barely reaching extreme southern VA, south to central FL and west to eastern LA. It is known from only a few dozen counties within this range, centered mainly in the Sandhills of the Carolinas and southern MS and southern AL.
AbundanceRare, easily overlooked, and requires care to identify. Seldom occurs in large numbers; typically only a few scattered individuals are found at a given site. This is a state Significantly Rare species.
HabitatUnlike the closely related Northern Spicebush (Lindera benzoin), which occurs in rich, often circumneutral soils, this species occurs only in acidic soils of streamhead pocosins, seepages under or near pines, and in blackwater streamsides near Atlantic White Cedar (Chamaecyparis thyoides) or Pond Pine (Pinus serotina). At essentially all sites, it occurs with a variety of typical pocosin shrubs.
See also Habitat Account for Laurel Shrublands
PhenologyBlooms in March and early April, essentially before the leaves emerge; fruits in August and September.
IdentificationThis is a medium to fairly large deciduous shrub, growing to about 12-15 feet tall and typically with 1-3 main stems. The branches tend to be virgate to rather erect when coming off larger stems, and often the leaves can grow somewhat erect as well. In full sun, the leaves are oblanceolate to narrowly obovate (wider above the middle) and have a rounded tip; they can appear somewhat thick and reach about 2.5-3 inches long. They are whitened beneath. However, plants in shade look closer to those of Northern Spicebush, but the leaves are still wider above the middle with rounded tips and lacking the distinct "drip-tip" of Northern Spicebush. The broken twigs have a lemon-scented aroma, similar to other spicebushes. The flowers and fruit are like other spicebushes, having small yellow flowers along the bare stems and red “berries” in fall. Most populations are discovered by biologists searching streamside pocosins and seepages in March or early April, looking for shrubs with small yellow flowers along the bare branches. By late April, it is much harder to find this species among other pocosin shrubs, particularly as they often grow back from the shorter pocosin edges and more toward the middle, amid taller vegetation and wetter ground. However, unlike with Pondberry (L. melissifolia), there are undoubtedly still new populations waiting to be discovered. In size, shape, leaf size, and fruit color, it closely resembles Ilex laevigata, but that plant's leaves have low, rounded teeth along margins and leaf undersides are not whitish.
Taxonomic CommentsThis is a rather recently described species (from a few decades ago), but it was not a newly discovered species but instead was a newly recognized species. Prior to the description, it had been overlooked and passed over as Lindera benzoin (as in RAB 1968). It is still a bit bothersome that plants growing in shade have leaves and overall appearance as close to those of Lindera benzoin as perhaps they are to L. subcoriacea plants growing in full sun, which are not at all similar to its more abundant “cousin”.

Other Common Name(s)None
State RankS2
Global RankG3
State StatusSR-T
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