Leatherwood (Dirca palustris)


Leatherwood is a deciduous shrub that can reach six feet tall and has lemon yellow blooms during March and April.   It like consistently moist acidic soils in part to full shade.   The leaves may bleach out in full sun and the fall color will suffer.


The flowers turn to green berries or drupes a half inch in diameter that turns a bright yellow in the fall.  The bark is leathery, tough and strong.   Twigs are very pliable.   Some people have allergic reactions when they come in contact with the bark.

Cherokee uses:   The Cherokee would make a root tea to use as a laxative.   They would chew the roots to relieve a toothache.   The inner bark was used for weaving, bow strings and fishing lines and nets.

We will have to admit that Leatherwood is new to us.   We knew that it was a shrub used by the Cherokee but we had not seen one in person.   A good friend (from the Georgia Native Plant Society) gave a new seedling to the Cherokee Garden-anxiously waiting for it to grown.


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