Leucothoe davisiae

Sierra laurel


The Basics

Taxonomy: Kingdom - Plantae (plants). Subkingdom - Tracheobionta (vascular plants). Superdivision - Spermatophyta (seed plants). Division - Magnoliophyta (flowering plants). Class - Magnoliopsida (dicotyledons). Subclass - Dilleniidae. Order - Ericales. Family - Ericaceae (heath). Genus - Leucothoe D. Don. Species -Leucothoe davisiae Torr. ex A. Gray


Plants 0.3-1.5 m, branches erect, 0.3-1.5 m. Leaves: petiole 3-6 mm; blade oblong to elliptic, 1-6 cm, margins sparsely toothed, apex shortly acute to obtuse, surfaces glabrous. Inflorescences fascicled, sessile, dense, 20-60-flowered, 5-15 cm; bracts deciduous, ovate, 1.7-2 mm. Pedicels 2-3 mm. Flowers: sepals whitish, lanceolate-ovate, 2.5-3.3 mm, apex acute or subacute; corolla urceolate, 6-8 mm; filaments glabrous; anthers 1.2-1.4 mm, with 2 awns (sometimes awns absent); ovary glabrous. Capsules 4.5-6 mm wide. Seeds ellipsoid or oblong; testa firm, reticulate. Flowering mid spring.


In the YFDP: Sierra laurel mainly grows in riparian areas, which served as fire refugia during the 2013 fire. Otherwise, sierra laurel was top-killed by fire.


Inflorescence - raceme, in fall, bracted; pedicel jointed to flower, bractlets 2, +/- basal. In upper leaf axils, < 15 cm, many-flowered; pedicel recurved.

Flower - sepals 5, fused at base; petals 5, fused, [cylindric to] urn-shaped; stamens 10, anthers dehiscing by pores, awns 4, [elongate to] vestigial, filaments +/- straight, with hairs, papillae [or only papillae]; ovary superior, chambers 5, placentas axile, stigma truncate [or head-like/peltate].

Fruit - capsule, loculicidal, erect, persistent after seed dispersal, dehiscing tip to base. Corolla 5.5-8.5 mm, calyx, white.

Seed - many per chamber, small, generally winged. < 6 mm wide, thin-walled.

Species Distribution


USDA Plants Database
USDA, NRCS. 2016. The PLANTS Database. National Plant Data Team, Greensboro, NC 27401-4901 USA.

Flora of North America
Flora of North America Editorial Committee, eds. 1993+. Flora of North America North of Mexico. 19+ vols. New York and Oxford.

The Jepson Herbarium
The Jepson Manual: Vascular Plants of California. B.G. Baldwin, D.H. Goldman, D.J. Keil, R. Patterson, T.J. Rosatti, and D.H. Wilken [editors]. 2012. 2nd edition, thoroughly revised and expanded. University of California Press, Berkeley, CA.