Chamaedaphne calyculata (L.) Moench
Ericaceae (Heath Family)
Synonym(s): Cassandra calyculata var. angustifolia, Cassandra calyculata var. latifolia, Chamaedaphne calyculata var. angustifolia, Chamaedaphne calyculata var. latifolia, Chamaedaphne calyculata var. nana
USDA Symbol: CHCA2
A small, dense, mound-shaped shrub, to 5 ft. high, often spreading to form thickets. Leaves are dull, leathery, dark green and oval, becoming progressively smaller toward twig end. Foliage become purplish through the winter. Small, white, nodding, bell-shaped flowers hang from upper leaf axils. Round, reddish capsules follow, eventually turning brown and persisting several years.
One of the many evergreen members of the heath family, this species also occurs in Asia; it is typical of boggy wetlands and highly acidic sites. In Massachusetts, Leatherleaf colonies can expand radially at the rate of one foot per decade. The genus name is from the Greek chamai ("on the ground") and daphne ("laurel").
From the Image Gallery
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 5 feet tall.
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Apr , May
DistributionUSA: AK , CT , DE , IL , IN , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , SC , VT , WI
Canada: AB , BC , MB , NB , NL , NS , ON , QC , SK
Native Distribution: Northeastern Europe east across northern Asia to North America: Alaska south to British Columbia in the west, east across Canada to Labrador, south in the east to North Carolina mountains
Native Habitat: Bogs; peaty swamps; wet meadows
Growing ConditionsWater Use: High
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Wet
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Low
Soil Description: Fine, wet peats, mucks & sands.
Conditions Comments: Slow-growing and short-lived with no serious disease, insect or physiological problems. Plants in the extreme n.e. part of the range have much broader leaves and are distinguished as var. latifolia.
BenefitUse Wildlife: Low
Warning: Plant poisonous
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
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National Wetland Indicator Status
From the National Organizations DirectoryAccording to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE
Web ReferenceWebref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter
Additional resourcesUSDA: Find Chamaedaphne calyculata in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Chamaedaphne calyculata in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Chamaedaphne calyculata
MetadataRecord Modified: 2023-01-31
Research By: TWC Staff