Time of bloom: May to June.
Seed-time: August to September.
Range: Rhode Island to Florida on the Atlantic slope; also in Tennessee and Arkansas. Habitat: Low, moist soil; wet meadows and pastures.
Like the Sheep Laurel, this poisonous plant does most harm while very small; for, though cattle and sheep sometimes browse, they prefer to graze, and it is usually the young, green shoots which spring up in damp, sandy pastures that are eaten by sheep and calves and cause them to stagger dizzily about, with slavering mouths and labored breathing, until they fall and die. (Fig. 216.) Stems one to four feet tall, with slender branches held nearly upright; the bark of old wood is specked with black dots. Leaves alternate, oblong, smooth and glossy above but sparingly hairy on the heavy veins and the midrib below, the under surface black-dotted, two or three inches in length, pointed at both ends, with short petioles and entire edges, the margins slightly revolute; they cling to the twigs until very late in the season, but are not evergreen. The flowers grow on the leafless wood of the preceding year's growth and are clustered just above the scars of last year's leaves; they are white or faintly rosy nodding bells, with bulging bases and slightly constricted throats, a little larger than lilies of the valley, which they somewhat resemble in form. The calyx is five-lobed and the bell-like corolla has five recurved teeth; stamens ten, included; style columnar and ovary five-celled. Capsule pointed-ovoid, five-angled, and five-celled, filled with many club-shaped seeds, none of which should be allowed to sow themselves and bring on the deadly young shoots. Measures for control the same as for Sheep Laurel.
Fig. 216. - Stagger-bush (Lyonia mariana). X 1/4.