Northern Ontario Plant Database
Dirca palustris L.
En: leatherwood, moosewood, ropebark, wicopy
Thymelaeaceae (Daphne Family)
General: A medium-sized, deciduous shrub, 1–3 m tall. Bark tough, grayish-brown, leathery and very flexible; wood white, brittle; twigs green when young, becoming brown; jointed, the step-like constrictions on the twigs formed by the dehiscent petiole bases, which encircle the following year's buds. Twigs smooth (glabrous), buds hairy, purplish-brown.
Leaves: Alternate, simple, pinnately-veined, very short petiolate. Leaf blade elliptic to obovate, 5–10 cm long, 3.5–7 cm wide; upper surface green, slightly paler beneath; leaves hairy when young, the upper surface becoming smooth (glabrate); leaf base tapering (cuneate) to rounded; apex pointed (acute) to blunt (obtuse); margins entire.
Flowers: Bisexual, fragrant, in lateral clusters of 2–4 flowers, to 1.3 cm long. Sepals petal-like, pale yellow, fused into a tubular calyx slightly flared towards the flat (truncate) edge; petals lacking; stamens 8, extending beyond the margins of the calyx (exserted); the single pistil with the style also exserted. Flowers bloom in early spring, prior to the emergence of the leaves.
Fruit: An ellipsoid to ovoid drupe, 8–12 mm long, smooth, green when young, becoming yellow to orangish. Fruit matures in late summer.
Habitat and Range: Moist, rich deciduous and mixedwood forests. Dirca palustris is a temperate, eastern North American species. A component of the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Forest Region, it extends north in Ontario to the southern Algoma District.
Internet Images: An excellent webpage on Dirca palustris can be found at Walter Muma's OntarioShrubs.com website.
A Dirca palustris webpage from the Missouriplants.com website.
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