Over 20 species of birds, as well as deer, rabbits, raccoons, and opossums have been recorded as browsing the leaves or eating the fruits. The fruits are a special favorite of wood thrushes. The spicebush swallowtail, Papilio troilus (L.), lays its eggs on spicebush and other plants in the Laurel Family – sassafras, redbay, and camphortree.
There apparently are no commercial uses of spicebush, but the essential oils of leaves, twigs, and fruits have lent themselves for minor use for tea, and dried fruits have been used in fragrant sachets. Native Americans used dried fruits as a spice and the leaves for tea. Extracts have been used for drugs, including anti-arthritic, diaphoretic, emetic and herbal steam. The benzoin of drug trade is produced by species of Styrax (Styraceae).
Because of its habitat in rich woods, early land surveyors and settlers used spicebush as an indicator species for good agricultural land.
Spicebush plants make nicely shaped shrubs with deep green leaves and, if in at least partial sun, the leaves turn bright yellow in the fall. It is a good choice for plantings in shady locations but can also grow in full sun. Moist soil is best.
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