Leucothoe fontanesiana (highland doghobble) or Leucothoe axillaris(coastal doghobble)
Evergreen flowering shrub
Heath family (Ericaceae)
Maryland distribution: Although the related fetterbush(Leucothoe racemosa / Eubotrys racemosa) occurs naturally in Maryland in swamps, moist woods, and thickets primarily on the coastal plain, neither doghobble species is native in the state. There are isolated records of both species occurring non-invasively in central Maryland natural areas. Size: 2 to 4 feet high by 3 to 6 feet wide Flowers: draping clusters of fragrant, small, ivory-white urn-shaped blooms; their scent is unusual and not conventionally floral or sweet Fall color: may turn bronzy to purplish-red in winter or will remain green; evergreen Sun: part sun to shade, ideally with dappled light during midafternoon Soil: moist, well-drained, acidic
Due to our changing climate, species native to our south have the potential to be more aligned with mid-Atlantic ecosystems in the future. Gardening with projected climate impacts in mind helps to create a resilient plant community as the plant palette appropriate to our area changes. As such, this “near native” plant is included in our recommendations for its adaptability. Learn more about Native Plants and Climate Change.
Garden uses: Leucothoe is valuable as a low-growing evergreen that prefers shade and is tolerant of somewhat damp soils. The loose, arching growth habit is well-suited for naturalized plantings and can be used to hide the leggy bases of taller shrubs. Any older stems with tired-looking foliage are easily trimmed back to refresh the plant's appearance; prune as desired in spring, after blooming, so new growth will quickly replace what was removed. These shrubs can sucker when thriving, but are relatively restrained in their spread. Deer usually avoid browsing leucothoe.
the appearance of most cultivars is roughly the same in terms of mature size, blooms, and growth habit; their main differences are the color of foliage (regarding new growth or mature growth) during spring or summer
Leucothoe axillaris 'Margie Jenkins' is reportedly more resistant to foliar disease than other varieties
Wildlife: flowers provide pollen and nectar for bees and butterflies