Leatherwood Dirca palustris
Family: Thymelaeaceae
Branching: Alternate

This is a unique shrub usually found in hardwood forests.  Even though they usually just grow to about shoulder height, a mature plant often has the form of a much larger tree.  Its bark is what gives it its name; it is very tough and living twigs can actually be tied in a knot without breaking the branch.  It also has distinctive leaf scars, which circle the buds.

Leatherwood end bud, with the leaf scar circling it

Another view of the characteristic leaf scar

Winter twig.  The circling leaf scars give the branch a "jointed" look

Leatherwood can be tied in a knot while still living; the bark is extremely tough.

Typical branching of Leatherwood

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copyright © 2008 Josh Sayers
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