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FNA | Family List | FNA Vol. 8 | Ericaceae | Leucothoe

3. Leucothoe davisiae Torrey ex A. Gray, Proc. Amer. Acad. Arts. 7: 400. 1868.

Mountain or black or sierra laurel

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. Mountain woods, bogs, wet areas; 1300-2600 m; Calif., Oreg.

Leucothoe davisiae, named for Nancy Jane Davis (1833-1921), Pennsylvania educator and amateur botanist who collected the type in 1863 in northern California, is native in the high Sierra Nevada and Warner Mountains of California and the Klamath ranges of southwestern Oregon and northwestern California. This species is poisonous; it contains diterpenoid compounds (grayanotoxins or andromedotoxins). All livestock are known to be susceptible, especially sheep and goats. Leaves are most frequently eaten; as little as 25 grams of leaves may be lethal to a sheep. It is also toxic to humans (S. A. Weathers 1998). Signs of poisoning include slowed or irregular heart rate, blurred vision, paralysis, excessive salivation or foaming at the mouth, depression, vomiting, and colic.


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