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Lyonia ligustrina (Maleberry)
Smith, R.W.

Lyonia ligustrina

Lyonia ligustrina (L.) DC.

Maleberry, He-huckleberry

Ericaceae (Heath Family)



USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Maleberry or he-huckleberry is a much-branched, single- or multiple stemmed, 6-12 ft., deciduous shrub, often twice as wide as tall. Glossy green leaves become orange-red in fall, finally turning tan-colored and persisting through much of the winter. The flowers are white, nodding, globe-shaped bells in crowded, one-sided terminal clusters. Hard, brownish, berry-like capsules follow the flowers and persist through winter. A much-branched, deciduous shrub with terminal clusters of globular white or pale rose flowers, constricted at the tip.

These blueberry-like shrubs are frequently associated with shrubby or wooded swamps. At least 3 more species occur in eastern North America: Staggerbush (L. mariana) has urn- or bell-shaped capsules; a southern evergreen species, Fetterbush (L. lucida), occurs from Virginia to Florida and Louisiana and has white to pale pink flowers, 3-angled branches, and dark green lustrous leaves with a conspicuous vein next to the rolled margin; another species, Rusty Staggerbush (L. ferruginea), is evergreen, with white flowers and dull green leaves. The genus name honors the early American botanist and explorer John Lyon, who died in 1818.


From the Image Gallery

12 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 12 feet tall.
Autumn Foliage: yes
Fruit: Brown

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul


USA: AL , AR , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MS , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , SC , TN , TX , VA , VT , WV
Native Distribution: S.e. ME to NY, OH, KY & AR, s. to FL & e. TX; more scattered in western part of its range
Native Habitat: Low, alluvial woods & thickets; wet meadows; bogs; lakeshores

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Wet
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
Soil Description: Wet, poorly drained, acid soils.
Conditions Comments: This species is highly variable in its foliage, pubescense, and in the presence or absence of reduced leaves in the inflorescence. It has no serious disease, insect or physiological problems.


Use Wildlife: Low.
Attracts: Birds


Description: Sow seeds in spring.
Seed Collection: Overwinter at room temperature.
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.

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


Record Modified: 2022-10-19
Research By: TWC Staff

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