Vascular Plants of North Carolina
Account for Pondspice - Litsea aestivalis   (L.) Fernald
Members of Lauraceae:
Only member of Litsea in NC.
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Section 4 » Order Laurales » Family Lauraceae
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Author(L.) Fernald
DistributionStrictly in the Coastal Plain, but quite local within this region. Mainly found in the southern half, from Craven to Hoke counties; however, it is disjunct north to Gates County near the VA border ("Horsepen Pocosin north of SR 1118").

This species has a narrow range only in the South Atlantic Coastal Plain, from eastern MD south to central and western FL.
AbundanceRare and in a restricted habitat. Can be numerous and perhaps a dominant species at a few sites. This is a State Special Concern species.
HabitatIt is restricted mainly to limesink ponds, but also is found in other isolated natural ponds and pools, such as in some Carolina bays. Nearly all of its sites are rather undisturbed and are natural areas, often with other rare species.
See also Habitat Account for Laurel Shrublands
PhenologyBlooms before the leaves emerge in March and April, and fruits in June and July.
IdentificationThis is a medium-sized deciduous shrub growing to about 10 feet tall and often much broader. It has very characteristic zigzag twigs, and the branches are often quite long and wide-spreading. Coupled with the small and relatively narrow leaves, the overall appearance is distinctive; a broadly branched shrub but with an open look. The alternate, narrowly elliptic leaves average only about 1 inch long and about 1/3-inch wide, with a rounded tip. Because of the small leaves and zigzag stem, plus its growth only in isolated ponds and pools, there should be little confusion of the species. There are small yellow flowers growing along the bare twigs in spring, and small blackish “berries” in summer. Myrtle Holly (Ilex myrtifolia) can grow with or near this species, and it also has small and narrow leaves; however, it has thick and evergreen leaves that are parallel-sided, has straight and stiff twigs, and has red fruit.
Taxonomic CommentsNone

Other Common Name(s)None
State RankS2S3
Global RankG3?
State StatusSC-V
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