Leatherwood is an interesting, under-used native shrub with small yellow flowers in early spring before leaves emerge. Light green leaves turn a bright yellow color in autumn. This plant may be difficult to find in nurseries.
"This species is native to the Chicago Region according to Swink and Wilhelm's Plants of the Chicago Region, with updates made according to current research."
All Common Names:
Tree or Plant Type:
- Chicago area,
- North America
- Mixed border,
- Medium shrub (5-8 feet),
- Small shrub (3-5 feet)
- Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily),
- Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)
- Zone 4,
- Zone 5 (Chicago),
- Zone 6,
- Zone 7,
- Zone 8,
- Zone 9
- Moist, well-drained soil,
- Wet soil
- Wet sites,
- Occasional flooding,
- Road salt
Season of Interest:
- Early spring,
- Early fall,
- Mid fall
Flower Color & Fragrance:
Shape or Form:
Size and Form
5 to 8 feet high and 4 to 8 feet wide; rounded to oval habit.
Tree & Plant Care
Best in partial to full shade.
Protect this plant from the wind.
Requires moist to wet site; avoid dry areas.
Disease, pests and problems
No serious, scale can be a problem on stressed plants.
Native geographic location and habitat
Found primarily in wet, shady sites in eastern U. S.
Bark color and texture
Bark is brown, turning gray and developing raised lenticels.
Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture
Alternate , simple, light green leaves; 1 to 3 inches long with smooth margin.
Leaves emerge in early spring.
Fall color is a clear yellow.
Flower arrangement, shape, and size
Small, yellow tubular flowersappear with leaves in very early spring.
Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions
Small, red, berry-like fruit (drupe); not showy.