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Common Name: Leather Leaf
Chamaedaphne calyculata is an evergreen shrub that can grow up to 0.75 metres tall.
It has edible and medicinal uses.
A toxin, called 'andromedotoxin' can be released from the plant if it is infused in boiling water[
]. See notes below regarding use of the plant for tea.
Northern Europe, through northern Asia and northern N. America.
Peaty swales, bogs, pine barrens, pond margins etc[
]. Coniferous forests and mossy moors at low elevations in China[
Thrives in a moist well-drained lime-free soil in sun or semi-shade[
]. Best if given some protection from the midday sun[
Plants are hardy to about -25°c[
There are some named forms, selected for their ornamental value. 'Nana' is a dwarf compact form that is good for shady areas[
The flowers have a delicate refreshing scent[
An aromatic tea-like beverage is brewed from the fresh or dried leaves[
]. Some reports say that boiling or steeping can extract a harmful toxin 'andromedotoxin' and it is recommended that the leaves are put in a jar of water and left in a sunny position to brew in order to make 'sun-tea'[
A poultice of the leaves has been applied to inflammations[
An infusion of the leaves has been used to treat fevers[
Seed - sow late winter in a lime-free compost in a greenhouse and only just cover the seed[
]. Do not allow the compost to dry out and keep the pot in a shady position. Germination is usually fair, taking 1 - 12 months at 15°c, though 4 weeks cold stratification may reduce this time[
]. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts[
Cuttings of almost ripe side-shoots, 4 - 5cm long with a heel, August in a frame. A variable degree of success[
]. It can help to prune the plants lightly after flowering in order to encourage vigorous growth from which to take the cuttings[
Layering in August. Takes 18 months. High percentage[