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Chamaedaphne calyculata (Leatherleaf)
Bloodworth, Stefan

Chamaedaphne calyculata

Chamaedaphne calyculata (L.) Moench

Leatherleaf, Cassandra

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

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), AK (N), CAN (N), SPM (N)

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

3 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 5 feet tall.
Leaf: Yellow-Green
Fruit: Brown

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Apr , May


USA: 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 Conditions

Water 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.


Use Wildlife: Low
Warning: Plant poisonous
Conspicuous Flowers: yes

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Flowering and evergreen shrubs for landscape in Indiana
May 29, 2010
I live in Southern Indiana and we are getting ready to redesign our front landscape. Currently, we have some yews and other shrubs that are unruly and require a lot of pruning and care. My husband hat...
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Evergreen shrubs for Michigan
June 17, 2008
I'm seeking a small-medium, ornamental, fairly compact, evergreen shrub to complement my front yard woodland wildflower garden. I want a shrub that will flank both sides of my front porch steps. I wa...
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National Wetland Indicator Status

This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE

Web Reference

Webref 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 resources

USDA: Find Chamaedaphne calyculata in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Chamaedaphne calyculata in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Chamaedaphne calyculata


Record Modified: 2023-01-31
Research By: TWC Staff

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