Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Maleberry - Lyonia ligustrina   (L.) de Candolle
Members of Ericaceae:
Members of Lyonia with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Ericales » Family Ericaceae
Author(L.) de Candolle
DistributionStatewide, and almost certainly occurring in all 100 counties.

This species has a wide range in the eastern U.S., ranging north to ME and ranging south far into FL and west to eastern TX. However, it is scarce as far west as OH and is not found in states farther to the north or west.
AbundanceLocally common in the Coastal Plain, most widespread in the Sandhills. Fairly common to common in the Piedmont and Mountains.
HabitatThis species has such diverse and divergent habitats that it seems that more than one species is involved. In the Coastal Plain it favors pocosins, seepages, edges of bay forests, and other damp, acidic forests. In the eastern Piedmont it also favors wooded streamsides and other damp ground, such as bottomlands. In the western part of the state it can occur in bogs and wet thickets, but it is often numerous on heath balds and other high and rocky woods and exposed ridges.
PhenologyBlooms from late April into June; fruits in September and October.
IdentificationThis is a deciduous shrub growing to 12 feet tall, but usually averages about 6-8 feet tall. It is quite variable in leaf size, though it has standard elliptic leaves that are entire to imperceptibly serrate. Most people will have trouble identifying this species, and thus the conical terminal cluster (panicle) of small globose white flowers (or capsules) will be needed for identification. No other ericaceous species in NC has terminal clusters of flowers in a panicle; others are usually in a narrow raceme or in clusters in leaf axils.
Taxonomic CommentsThis is a morphologically variable species. Some authors do not list varieties, though others, such as Weakley (2018), list two varieties – the nominate ligustrina (Mountains, Piedmont, and upper Coastal Plain) and also foliosiflora (Coastal Plain). Some plants in the zone of overlap may not key cleanly to either variety.

Other Common Name(s)He-huckleberry, Male-blueberry
State RankS5
Global RankG5
State Status
US Status
USACE-agcpFACW link
USACE-empFACW link
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Photo Gallery
B.A. SorrieTable Rock summit, early July 2020. BurkePhoto_natural
B.A. SorrieFort Bragg, streamhead ecotone, 1993. CumberlandPhoto_natural
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