Flower of the Day: Leatherwood

20150406-20150406-_DSC0005Dirca palustris (Thymelaeaceae)

This was an exciting find, because it is new to me, and also because it’s threatened in Maryland.  Leatherwood, also known as ropebark, moosewood, and wicopy (this last word derived from the Powhatan language) is a short understory shrub of rich, moist woods and streambanks.  The bark is characteristically tough and pliable.  Clusters of yellow flowers typically appear in early spring; according to one source, they are short-lived, while another states that they last “a long time”.  Since this is the first time I’ve seen it, I can’t say from experience.  Each time I go to Carderock I’ll be checking on this plant, to see how it progresses.

Although leatherwood ranges from just west of the Mississippi all the way to the Atlantic, and from Quebec to Florida (where it’s endangered), it is somewhat rare throughout its range.

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