Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Staggerbush - Lyonia mariana   (L.) D. Don
Members of Ericaceae:
Members of Lyonia with account distribution info or public map:
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Section 6 » Order Ericales » Family Ericaceae
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Author(L.) D. Don
DistributionOccurs essentially throughout the Coastal Plain but is of spotty occurrence in the far northeast, where it might be absent in a few counties north of Albemarle Sound. Also present across the lower Piedmont, but “sharply” absent from the central and western Piedmont and the Mountains. There seem to be no disjunct populations west of the eastern Piedmont.

This species has a bizarre, “split” range, if indeed the western population is the same species. It ranges primarily from CT south mainly in the Atlantic Coastal Plain to central FL. However, it apparently skips over AL and MS and is found again from MO south to eastern TX.
AbundanceCommon and reasonably widespread in the Coastal Plain, not growing in extensive or dense colonies. Infrequent in the adjacent Piedmont.
HabitatThis species favors drier habitats than does L. lucida, favoring the higher portions of sandhills ecotones (i.e., the edge between upland longleaf pine stands and pocosins), pine flatwoods, and other mesic to somewhat dry pine forests. In the Piedmont, and in some places in the Coastal Plain, it grows in drier sites, and in the Piedmont usually is found in sandy or rocky woodlands.
PhenologyBlooms in April and May, and fruits in September and October.
IdentificationThis is a deciduous and fairly low growing shrub, normally reaching only 2-3 feet tall, often just knee high. Though it has fairly shiny and elliptical leaves like so many other shrubs, it has a distinctive look, with “virgate“ (upwardly branching) twigs, and the leaves also tend to grow upwards at a roughly 45-degree angle, as well. It has somewhat wider and showier white flowers than most other ericaceous species, and these “dangle” downward near the tips of the twigs.
Taxonomic CommentsNone. Apparently the population growing west of the Mississippi River is not divergent enough from the eastern population to be named as a separate subspecies or variety.

Other Common Name(s)Piedmont Staggerbush (an inappropriate name, considering that it is primarily found in the Coastal Plain).
State RankS5
Global RankG5
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B.A. SorrieFort Bragg, Northern Training Area, streamhead upper ecotone, May 2014. HarnettPhoto_natural
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