Staggerbush
(Rusty Lyonia - Crookedwood - Dragonwood)
Lyonia ferruginea
(Walt.) Nutt
Ericaceae (Heath) Family

Plant is a much branched evergreen shrub with clusters of globular flowers. Plant twigs are the most distinctive feature as they zig-zag at each node. Its preferred habitat is wet thickets and swamps. Distribution is throughout the Escambia region.

Leaves are about three inches long; alternate on the stem; oblong to oval and finely toothed. The new leaves are smallest and scrufy rusty scally, becoming smooth on upper surface. The margins are entire and slightly rolled under. The tip is blunt. The mature leaves have lateral veins that are impressed on the upper surface.

Flowers are small; constricted at the tip; pale rose or white. The calyx lobes are triangular. Flowers occur in early spring, but the shrub is known to flower in early summer as well.

Fruit is a round, berry-like capsule persisting through the winter.

These blueberry-like shrubs are frequently associated with wooded swamps. Three species occur in this region, L. mariana has urn-shaped capsules; L. lucida (Fetterbush) occurs alongside Staggerbush and is easily confused until the flower emerges; Maleberry, L. ligustrina, persists in the same areas and has similar flowers. The genus name honors the early American botanist and explorer John Lyon, who died in 1818.

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