Dirca palustris L.
Family: Thymelaeaceae
Eastern Leatherwood
Dirca palustris image
Paul Rothrock  
Shrub 1 - 2 m tall Leaves: alternate, on a hairy, 2 - 5 mm long stalk, 5 - 8 cm long, to over 6 cm wide, broadly oblong to reverse egg-shaped to egg-shaped, woolly, becoming hairless with age. Inflorescence: a stalked cluster of two to three flowers. Flowers: nearly stalkless, pale yellow, 7 - 10 mm long, sepals fused into a funnel-shaped tube, without petals, subtended by hairy bud-scales. Tube somewhat constricted above the ovary. Stamens eight, exserted. Anthers orange. Style exceeding the stamens. Fruit: fleshy with a hard center (drupe), enclosed in the persistent sepals, yellowish green to purple, 1.2 - 1.5 cm long, ellipsoid. Twigs: jointed, flexible, often with a small spur at each node.

Similar species: No information at this time.

Flowering: April to early May, before the leaves

Habitat and ecology: Local in the Chicago Region. It has been found in moist woods, wooded bluffs along rivers and creeks, and on the shaded slopes of dunes.

Occurence in the Chicago region: native

Etymology: Dirca comes from the Greek word dirke, meaning fountain, in reference to the moist habitat of this plant. Palustris means "marsh loving."

Author: The Morton Arboretum

Shrub 1-2 m; lvs broadly oblong-obovate or obovate to ovate, 5-8 cm, on petioles 2-5 mm; fls 7-10 mm, the stamens protruding 3 mm; fr ellipsoid, 12-15 mm, pale yellowish- green, quickly deciduous. Rich, moist woods; N.S. and s. Que. to Minn., s. to Fla., Ala., Ark., and Okla.

Gleason, Henry A. & Cronquist, Arthur J. 1991. Manual of vascular plants of northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. lxxv + 910 pp.

©The New York Botanical Garden. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
From Flora of Indiana (1940) by Charles C. Deam
Infrequent throughout the state except in the northwestern and southwestern parts from which there are no records. In the northern part of the state it is usually found in rich soil, in beech and sugar maple woods, generally carpeted with a deep leaf mold, more rarely in wet woods, and in a tamarack bog in Steuben County. In the southern part, it usually occurs on the lower part of wooded slopes along streams. An exceptional habitat is its occurrence under hemlock trees on a low sandstone cliff along the Muscatatuck River between Vernon and North Vernon, Jennings County, where it was growing with its roots in the crevices of the sandstone cliff. It is most frequent in Parke County where a creek bears its name.