Chamaedaphne calyculata (Leather-leaf)

Plant Info
Also known as:
Family:Ericaceae (Heath)
Life cycle:perennial woody
Habitat:sun; bogs, peatlands, swampy streambanks in coniferous forests
Bloom season:April - June
Plant height:12 to 40 inches
Wetland Indicator Status:GP: OBL MW: OBL NCNE: OBL
MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):Minnesota county distribution map
National distribution (click map to enlarge):National distribution map

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Detailed Information

Flower: Flower shape: 5-petals Flower shape: bell Cluster type: raceme

[photo of flowers] Horizontal or arching leafy racemes of nodding, urn-shaped, pearly white bells with crisp rolled up petal lips, on a short stalk. The tubular flowers are ¼ to 1/3 inch long, wider at the top, narrowing towards the curl framed opening below. Sepals are triangular, scaly and a coppery color. A mature plant has many flowering branches.

Leaves and stem: Leaf attachment: alternate Leaf type: simple

[photo of leaves] Leaves are leathery, elongated oval or elliptical with blunt base and blunt to rounded or tapered tips, ¾ to 1½ inches long, ¼ to ½ inch wide, on a short, scaly brown stalk. Leaf edges are slightly rolled under and finely toothed. Upper surface dark green with a smooth sheen, undersides pale greenish brown with scales. Leaves in the floral raceme are reduced in size. New growth is brown, scaly and finely hairy, older branches turn gray with a fine exfoliating bark texture.


Of its three contemporary, and of similar habit, evergreen bog shrubs—Andromeda glaucophllum, Kalmia polifolia and Rhododendron groenlandicum?Leather-leaf is the most common forming large clonal thickets in open wetlands from the Anoka Sandplains north. Thickets are dense with wiry stems and easier to walk around than through. Robust in cool wet springs, leaves and flowers readily take on a scorched appearance in warm dry weather. Colonies advance by stems rooting in the damp spaghnum moss or by rhizomes. Its thickets can be of great size, often being the dominant shrub in some open wetlands but it is never invasive, sharing in a richly diverse ecosystem.

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More photos

Photos courtesy Peter M. Dziuk, taken in open wetlands in Aitkin, Anoka and Washington counties.


Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?

Posted by: Annie H - Hibbing Minnesota
on: 2016-05-27 00:17:09

Located off the Railroad tracks between Hibbing and Nashwauk is a Coniferous bog. These leatherleafs are common there.

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