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Dirca palustris (Eastern leatherwood)
Reveal, James L.

Dirca palustris

Dirca palustris L.

Eastern Leatherwood, Western Leatherwood, Ropebark, Wicopy

Thymelaeaceae (Mezereum Family)

Synonym(s): Dirca decipiens, Dirca mexicana

USDA Symbol: DIPA9

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

A short, dense shrub, usually 3-6 ft. tall, with solitary or few short trunks and ascending, candelabra-like branching. Narrow, yellow, bell-shaped flowers hang in pendulous clusters and last a long time. Leaves are dark green in summer, turning a clear yellow for fall.


From the Image Gallery

21 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Fruit Type: Drupe
Size Notes: Up to about 10 feet tall, often shorter.
Fruit: Green, Purple, Red

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Yellow
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun


USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IA , IL , IN , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MI , MN , MO , MS , NC , ND , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , SC , TN , VA , VT , WI , WV
Canada: NB , NS , ON
Native Distribution: S. Que. to MN, s. to FL, AL & OK
Native Habitat: Moist, rich, wooded slopes & bottomlands

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist
Soil pH: Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
Soil Description: Moist, well-drained, organic soils.
Conditions Comments: No serious disease or insect problems. Full sun can stress the plant. Contact with broken wood can cause severe dermatitis.


Use Wildlife: Low.
Warning: POISONOUS PARTS: All parts. Minor skin irritation when touched, low toxicity if ingested. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea; contact with bark may cause skin irritation with blisters. Toxic Principle: Resin. (Poisonous Plants of N.C.)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes


Description: Seed can be sown outside as soon as it is ripe. The seeds need a cold period of about three months to germinate. Cuttings are difficult to root. Layering offers a method of vegetative reproduction.
Commercially Avail: yes

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


Record Modified: 2022-10-18
Research By: TWC Staff

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