Floridata Article

Crookedwood (Lyonia ferruginea)


This member of the heath family (which includes blueberries and azaleas) is also known as rusty lyonia. It occurs throughout Florida in sandy habitats, both dry and wet. Either crookedwood, the closely-related staggerbush (L. fruticosa), or both, are almost always present in Florida scrub. Some scrubs are dominated by crookedwood. This is one of the few scrub plants that persists in the shade of a sand pine forest. Crookedwood is common in the mature sand pine forests of the Ocala National Forest. The specimens shown here have been protected from fire for several decades, and are twice as tall (about 15') as normal. Crookedwood is sometimes harvested for its twisted trunks and stems which are used in decorative arrangements and displays. How ironic that these real shrubs are cut down and stripped of their leaves to make artificial shrubs with plastic leaves for indoor malls! (Fortunately, decapitated crookedwoods usually sprout back from their roots just as if they had burned to the ground.)

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