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Chamaedaphne calyculata

Chamaedaphne calyculata (L.) Moench

Cassandra calyculata (L.) D. Don var. angustifolia (Aiton) Seymour

Cassandra calyculata (L.) D. Don var. latifolia (Aiton) Seymour

Chamaedaphne calyculata (L.) Moench var. angustifolia (Aiton) Rehder

Chamaedaphne calyculata (L.) Moench var. latifolia (Aiton) Fernald

Chamaedaphne calyculata (L.) Moench var. nana (Lodd.) E. Busch

Leatherleaf

KingdomPlantaePlants, but not fungi, lichens, or algae
SubkingdomTracheobiontaVascular plants—plants with a “circulatory system” for delivering water and nutrients
DivisionMagnoliophytaFlowering plants, also known as angiosperms
ClassMagnoliopsidaDicotyledons—plants with two initial seed leaves
SubclassAsteridaeA large class that encompasses asters
OrderEricalesTea, persimmon, blueberry, Brazil nut, azalea, many others
FamilyEricaceaeHeath or heather family
GenusChamaedaphneFrom Greek chamai, “on the ground;” and daphun, “laurel”
SpeciescalyculataFrom calyx, “husk covering calyx;” and ula, “little”

About plant names...

Leatherleaf is circumboreal—it is native to northern regions around the world.

Identification: Plants are multiply branched shrubs 12-59" (30-150 cm) in height, with roots that extend about 12" (30 cm) into soggy soil. They are found in dense, floating mats of sphagnum in fresh water, or along edges of water, especially bogs. Leaves are alternate, unlobed, sometimes toothed, leathery, elliptical to broadly lanceolate, ⅜-1¾" (1-5 cm) × ⅛-⅝" (5-17 mm). Leaf edges are slightly curled downward. Flowers are ¼" (6.3 mm) in size, white, and urn-shaped, similar to those of blueberries. They occur in long racemes and hang one-sided, like bells, and appear from April to July. Buds are covered with tiny, brown scales. Fruits are round, reddish capsules.

Edibility: Some native North Americans brewed tea from fresh or dry leaves, but boiling may release enough grayanotoxin I, also called “andromedotoxin,” to be toxic. (The same substance is found in some rhododendrons.) Although grayanotoxin I poisoning is rarely fatal, it pro­bably isn’t what you had in mind from a cup of tea, and steeping the leaves in a jar of water in a sunny spot, instead of boiling, was said to minimize this problem.

Online References:

Chamaedaphne calyculata at the University of Wisconsin's Robert W. Freckmann Herbarium

Chamaedaphne calyculata on the USDA Forest Service's Fire Effects Information Database

Chamaedaphne calyculata at the Virginia Tech Department of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation

Chamaedaphne calyculata on the Connecticut Botanical Society's Connecticut wildflowers site

Chamaedaphne calyculata on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants

Chamaedaphne calyculata on eFloras

Chamaedaphne calyculata (Leatherleaf)

9/20/2009 · Wild Gardens of Acadia, Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, ME
≈ 15 × 10" (39 × 26 cm)

Chamaedaphne calyculata (Leatherleaf)

9/28/2013 · Wild Gardens of Acadia, Acadia Naitonal Park, Bar Harbor, ME
≈ 7 × 11" (18 × 28 cm)

Chamaedaphne calyculata (Leatherleaf)

10/16/2016 · Guilder Pond, Mount Everett, Mt. Washington, MA
≈ 5 × 4½" (13 × 12 cm)

Chamaedaphne calyculata description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 3 Jul 2017.

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Chamaedaphne calyculata (Leatherleaf)

6/22/2017 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, MA
≈ 6 × 4½" (14 × 12 cm)

Chamaedaphne calyculata (Leatherleaf)

10/26/2012 · Dunstable Rural Land Trust Wildlife Refuge, Dunstable, MA
≈ 6 × 4" (15 × 10 cm) ID is uncertain

Chamaedaphne calyculata (Leatherleaf)

9/20/2009 · Wild Gardens of Acadia, Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, ME
≈ 24 × 16" (62 × 41 cm)

Chamaedaphne calyculata (Leatherleaf)

9/20/2009 · Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, ME
≈ 11 × 7" (27 × 18 cm)

Chamaedaphne calyculata (Leatherleaf)

10/16/2016 · Guilder Pond, Mount Everett, Mt. Washington, MA
≈ 4½ × 7" (12 × 18 cm)

Chamaedaphne calyculata (Leatherleaf)

10/16/2016 · Guilder Pond, Mount Everett, Mt. Washington, MA
≈ 6 × 4" (15 × 11 cm)

Chamaedaphne calyculata (Leatherleaf)

6/22/2017 · Garden in the Woods, Framingham, MA
≈ 8 × 5" (20 × 13 cm)

Chamaedaphne calyculata (Leatherleaf)

9/20/2009 · Acadia National Park, Bar Harbor, ME
≈ 9 × 6" (23 × 15 cm)

Range: Zones 3-7:

About this map...