Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Florida Hobblebush - Agarista populifolia   (Lamarck) Judd
Members of Ericaceae:
Only member of Agarista in NC.
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Section 6 » Order Ericales » Family Ericaceae
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Author(Lamarck) Judd
DistributionOf uncertain occurrence in the state, though a specimen has been collected from Columbus County: "cultivated at Niknar Nursery, Asheville, N.C.; originally from near Smith's Bridge, Columbus County, N.C.", 2 July 1935, H.R. Totten s.n. (NCU). Other specimens from Buncombe, Jackson, Mecklenburg, Moore, and Wake counties are all from cultivated plants. The BONAP atlas also shows a report from Randolph County, but Weakley (2018) considers this as an escape.

This is a globally restricted shrub, occurring with certainty only from southern SC south to central FL, mainly in and near coastal counties. There are a few reports (probably not native) from southern AL, far west of the known range.
AbundanceIf the Columbus County record is/were valid, the species is perhaps extirpated now. NCNHP considers it on its Watch List (W3), as of Uncertain Documentation, with a State Rank of SU (Undetermined). However, this website feels that a rank of SR (Reported) is more precise than the vague Undetermined. It can be common in FL and coastal GA. Obviously, the status of the species in the state is unsettled.
HabitatThis shrub grows in wet forested habitats, mainly in swampy woodlands and wet/damp hammocks. It also occurs in seeps and springs.
PhenologyFlowers in the spring (April and May), and fruits in the fall (September and October).
IdentificationThis evergreen shrub forms dense thickets with its long, arching branches, making it somewhat difficult to penetrate. It normally grows to about 10-12 feet tall, and much wider. The alternate leaves are narrowly elliptic to lanceolate and essentially entire, about 3 inches long and about 1-inch wide. It has somewhat typical narrow, white, tubular ericaceous flowers, in clusters in leaf axils. Thus, as the species is mostly unknown to biologists in NC, it could be easily overlooked as Coastal Doghobble (Leucothoe axillaris), except that species grows mostly to just knee-height.
Taxonomic CommentsThis shrub was formerly known as Leucothoe populifolia (in RAB 1968) and also as Lyonia populifolia. It is the only species in the genus Agarista found in the US.

Other Common Name(s)Florida Leucothoe, Agarista, Pipe-plant
State RankSU [SR]
Global RankG4G5
State StatusW3
US Status
USACE-agcpFACW link
USACE-empOBL link
County Map - click on a county to view source of record.
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B.A. SorriePhoto taken May 2016, yard plant in Whispering Pines, Moore County, NC. ColumbusPhoto_natural

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