Dirca palustris, Leatherwood

Dirca palustris
photos by Dennis Kalma

Scientific Name:
Common Name:
ITIS Number:
NRCS Symbol:
  Dirca palustris L.
Thymelaeaceae (mezerums)

Plant: shrub, to 2 m tall

Flower & Fruits: in clusters of 2-4 within hairy bud scales; flowers short-lived, 4-5 parted, 7-10 mm long; base of sepals fused to form a tube enclosing flower; sepals minute, pale yellow-green, petals lacking; flowers in spring before leaves appear; fruit ellipsoidal, turns from green to red, 12-15 mm long

Leaves: alternate-simple, 5-8 cm; ovate, entire; short leaf stalks (5-8 mm)

Buds & Twigs: short leaf stalks entirely cover velvety-brown buds; leaf scars raised will above surface of twig, scars encircle the twig making it appear jointed, 5 bundle scars; bark of twigs very tough and fibrous, cannot be broken by hand

Habitat: rich, moist woods

Range: Nova Scotia and Quebec west to Minnesota; south to Arkansas and Oklahoma; east to Alabama and Florida

Similar Species: the raised leaf scars with five bundles and the tough bark distinguish this from other species

WARNING: bark resin said to be minor skin irritant, causing blisters; vomiting and diarrhea may occur if plant material ingested

    Dirca palustris flowers