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Plant A Grove: Leatherwood (Dorca palustris)



One of a very few shrubs that not only tolerates but enjoys heavy shade and marsh-like conditions, leatherwood is an attractive garden addition spring through fall. It typically reaches 4- 6 feet in both height and spread so it works well as an understory plant. Bell-shaped yellow flowers appear in March and April followed by inedible green drupes (type of fruit with pits) in late spring or early summer. Its oval leaves, which also emerge in spring, begin as a yellow-green color but gradually turn bright green in the summer and then return to a shade of yellow in the fall. Leatherwood twigs are pliable and have been used to weave baskets, to braid rope and to construct bow strings for generations.