Herbs & Plants

Leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata)

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Botanical Name : Chamaedaphne calyculata
Family: Ericaceae
Genus: Chamaedaphne Moench
Species: C. calyculata
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ericales

Common Name: Cassandra ,Leatherleaf :(The name Chamaedaphne comes from the Greek for “ground laurel“; the common name comes from its tough, leather-like leaf.)

Habitat :This is native to the U.S. (United States) has its most active growth period in the spring and summer . It has a wide distribution throughout the cool temperate and subarctic regions of the Northern Hemisphere.wet; bogs; in acidic soil

The Leatherleaf (Calyculata) is generally described as a perennial shrub.
It is a low-growing shrub up to 1.5 m tall. The leaves are alternately arranged on the branch and elliptical to oblong shaped, 3–4 cm long, with minute scales and lighter coloration on the underside, and an entire or irregularly toothed margin. They are evergreen but often turn red-brown in winter. The flowers are small (5–6 mm long), white, and bell-like, produced in panicles up to 12 cm long. The species site is restricted to bogs, where they naturally form large clonal colonies.
Fruit – persistent, many-seeded, 5-chambered, round, capsules, 3-5 mm wide, split open along lengthwise slits.

Cultivation and Care
Leatherleaf reproduces by seed and vegetatively by rhizomes. Seed set is usually high (50-95%) when the flowers are open-pollinated but low (1-15%) when flowers are self-fertilized. After cold stratification to break dormancy, the seeds germinate on sphagnum or sedge mats. Moist sphagnum surrounding leatherleaf shoots, roots, and rhizomes causes vigorous vegetative growth. Leatherleaf is the first shrub to enter a bog after sphagnum is established and it is a primary species in extending the bog mat. It remains characteristic of the mature and late stages of moss/low ericaceous shrub communities as open water disappears and may remain dominant for 50 years in some communities. Leatherleaf is shade intolerant and begins to thin as tall shrubs or bog forest species such as tamarack (Larix laricina) and/or black spruce (Picea mariana) establish.

Persistence of leatherleaf in bogs over long periods has been attributed to its regeneration following recurrent fire, which is a primary factor in maintaining early successional stages in these communities. Leatherleaf may show a strong increase in stem density following spring burning and may be only slightly injured by summer or autumn fires. Leatherleaf probably survives severe fires because rhizomes are deep in water-saturated substrates and its root crowns and stems are matted in debris. Division is the most successful method of propagation for leatherleaf. Plants may be divided in early fall, planting each rooted clump as a new shrub. Transplanting in summer or autumn stimulated shoot production more than spring transplanting. The ends of shoots also may be bent down to the soil and layered. Young plants should be partially shaded.

Medicinal Uses:
A poultice of the leaves has been applied to inflammations.  An infusion of the leaves has been used to treat fevers.

Other Uses:
Cassandra  is used as a food plant by the larvae of some Lepidoptera species including Coleophora ledi.

Known Hazards :  A toxin, called ‘andromedotoxin’ can be released from the plant if it is infused in boiling water[183]. See notes below regarding use of the plant for tea.

The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplements, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.


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One reply on “Leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata)”


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