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Plant Description


Chamaedaphne calyculata (L.) Moench 1794, non Baillon 1892

En: leatherleaf, dwarf cassandra
Fr: cassandre caliculé, faux bleuets, petit daphné caliculé
Oj: bashkwegin-niibish, mashkiigobagoons, waabashkikiibag

Ericaceae (Blueberry Family)

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Chamaedaphne calyculata1 Chamaedaphne calyculata2 Chamaedaphne calyculata3 Chamaedaphne calyculata4 Chamaedaphne calyculata5 Chamaedaphne calyculata6 Chamaedaphne calyculata7 Chamaedaphne calyculata8 Chamaedaphne calyculata9 Chamaedaphne calyculata10 Chamaedaphne calyculata11 Chamaedaphne calyculata12 Chamaedaphne calyculata13

Ericaceae (Blueberry Family)

General: A low, erect, evergreen shrub, to 1 m tall, with graceful, arching branches; typically spreads by underground rhizomes to form extensive colonies.

Stems/twigs: Young twigs are rough-textured (scurfy), due to a covering of many minute, flat, round scales that turn from white to cinnamon-brown when mature. Older stems are smooth (glabrous) and reddish-brown to grayish-brown, with somewhat shreddy bark. Buds are small, alternate, and brown.

Leaves: Alternate, simple, evergreen, ascending to erect, and short-petiolate. Leaf blades are oval, narrowly oblong-elliptic, to oblanceolate, 1-5 cm long by 0.3-1.5 cm wide; leathery-textured (coriaceous); dull, dark green and slightly scurfy above; lower surfaces are typically cinnamon-brown and have a dense coating of scurfy scales. The leaf bases and apex are pointed (acute) to blunt (obtuse) or rounded, margins are entire and flat to slightly turned under (revolute). Persistent, overwintering leaves are bronze to dark brown in colour.

Flowers: Bisexual; with many, nodding, white flowers in graceful, arching to nearly horizontal, leafy, 1-sided, terminal racemes. Each flower is about 5-6 mm long and borne in the axil of a small, erect leaf. The 5, small, pale sepals are ovate to triangular; the white corolla is urn-shaped (urceolate), with 5 small, recurved lobes; the 10 stamens have anthers that terminate in long tubular beaks, through which pollen is shed; the compound pistil has a superior ovary of 5 carpels and a single, prominent style that persists in fruit. Flowers blooms in early spring.

Fruit: Numerous, small, round (globose), 5-chambered, dry capsules, <6 mm in diameter; depressed in the centre and ending in a slender, persistent style. Racemes of old, dry capsules often persist on plants for a few years. Fruits mature in late summer.

Habitat and Range: Shorelines, marshes, bogs, and in the understorey of open, wet coniferous forests with a peatmoss (Sphagnum) dominated moss layer. Leatherleaf is a circumpolar plant found across boreal North America; it occurs throughout Ontario.

Similar Species: Sweet gale (Myrica gale) often occurs in the same habitat as leatherleaf, but can be identified by its oblanceolate leaves with several marginal teeth near the leaf apex. Its stems and leaves bear small golden resin dots, but lack the scurfy scales characteristic of leatherleaf.

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