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Dirca palustris - L.

Common Name Leather Wood, Eastern leatherwood
Family Thymelaeaceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards Contact with the plant can cause severe dermatitis with redness, blistering and sores in some people[222].
Habitats Rich deciduous or mixed woods[43] in moist situations, often on calcareous soils[200].
Range Eastern N. America - New Brunswick to Florida, west to Louisiana and Minnesota.
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care (info)
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Dirca palustris Leather Wood, Eastern leatherwood


http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Dirca_palustris_-_Edwards.jpg
Dirca palustris Leather Wood, Eastern leatherwood

 

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Summary


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Dirca palustris is a deciduous Shrub growing to 1.8 m (6ft).
It is hardy to zone (UK) 4 and is not frost tender. It is in flower in March. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Insects.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils. Suitable pH: acid, neutral and basic (alkaline) soils. It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

UK Hardiness Map US Hardiness Map

Synonyms

Habitats

Woodland Garden Sunny Edge; Dappled Shade; Shady Edge;

Edible Uses

None known

References

Medicinal Uses

Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.
Emetic  Laxative  Pectoral  Poultice  VD

Leatherwood was employed medicinally by a number of native North American Indian tribes who used it to treat a wide variety of ailments[257]. It is little used in modern herbalism and any use should be carried out with caution since even minute doses can cause salivation and burning of the tongue[222]. A tea made from the bark is laxative[222]. Another report says that it is purgative and emetic, and can produce violent vomiting[235, 257]. An infusion of the roots has been used in the treatment of pulmonary problems[257]. A decoction of the branches has been applied as a poultice to swellings on the limbs[257]. The plant is a folk remedy for toothaches, facial neuralgia and paralysis of the tongue, venereal disease, and has also been used to try and induce pregnancy[222, 257].

References

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An important new book from PFAF. It focuses on the attributes of plants suitable for food forests, what each can contribute to a food forest ecosystem, including carbon sequestration, and the kinds of foods they yield. The book suggests that community and small-scale food forests can provide a real alternative to intensive industrialised agriculture, and help to combat the many inter-related environmental crises that threaten the very future of life on Earth.

Read More

FOOD FOREST PLANTS

Other Uses

Basketry  Fibre  Hair  Paper  String

The tough flexible shoots are used in basket making and as a tying material[1, 11, 43, 46, 95]. A rope can be made from the bark fibres[1, 11, 46, 61]. The bark fibres are also used in making paper[189]. The stems are harvested in summer, the leaves are removed and the stems steamed until the fibres can be stripped. The outer and inner barks are separated by scraping or peeling. The fibres are cooked for 2 hours or less with soda ash and then beaten with mallets or put through a blender. The paper is greenish cream in colour[189]. A compound infusion of the roots has been used as a wash to strengthen the hair and make it grow[257].

Special Uses

Scented Plants

References

Cultivation details

Thrives in a moist peaty soil[1, 11] and a sheltered position[175]. Prefers a reasonably moist humus-rich limy soil according to another report[182]. The flowers are produced in early spring and they are often damaged by frost[1, 200]. They have a soft sweet perfume[245]. The species D. occidentalis A.Gray. is very closely related to this plant[200], so it might have the same uses[K].

References

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Plants For A Future have a number of books available in paperback and digital form. Book titles include Edible Plants, Edible Perennials, Edible Trees, and Woodland Gardening. Our new book to be released soon is Edible Shrubs.

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Propagation

Seed - best sown in a cold frame as soon as it is ripe[113]. Remove the fruit flesh since this can inhibit germination[113]. Dried seed will require 2 - 3 months cold stratification[113]. The seed usually germinates in 1 - 6 months at 15°c[175]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in the greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Layering.

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameHabitHeightHardinessGrowthSoilShadeMoistureEdibleMedicinalOther
Dirca occidentalisLeather Wood, Western leatherwoodShrub1.8 6-9  LMHSNM00 

Growth: S = slow M = medium F = fast. Soil: L = light (sandy) M = medium H = heavy (clay). pH: A = acid N = neutral B = basic (alkaline). Shade: F = full shade S = semi-shade N = no shade. Moisture: D = dry M = Moist We = wet Wa = water.

 

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Botanical References

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