|pondberry, Southern spicebush, swamp spicebush|
|Kimberlie McCue, Ph.D.|
The following Participating Institutions are custodians for this species in the CPC National Collection:
Missouri Botanical Garden
Mercer Arboretum and Botanic Gardens
The conservation of Lindera melissifolia is fully sponsored.
Kimberlie McCue, Ph.D. contributed to this Plant Profile.
Pondberry is a pretty, medium sized shrub described by Steyermark (1963) as one of the rarest shrubs in the U.S. The plant flowers in early spring, before leafing out, and produces beautiful bright red fruits in late summer. Pondberry leaves are aromatic and have a strong lemon-sassafras aroma when crushed. This species is dioecious, meaning individual plants produce only male or only female flowers. However, once a male does not mean always a male. One plant growing at the Missouri Botanical Garden (MBG) apparently has changed sexes! After many years of producing only male flowers, the pondberry at MBG produced fruit! Botanists speculate that in the year the plant made the switch, some branches produced male flowers and some branches produced female flowers--hence the ability to produce fruit. Since that time, the plant has produced only female flowers.
Distribution & Occurrence
- North Carolina
- South Carolina
Given its name, it is not surprising that Pondberry occurs in seasonally flooded wetlands, sandy sinks, pond margins and swampy depressions. In Arkansas and Missouri, Pondberry tends to occupy depressions that form natural swamps or ponds. Populations in North Carolina occur in soil with sandy sediments and high peat content, while in South Carolina the plants occur at the margins of limestone sinks and undrained shallow depressions. (USFWS 1993)
Overstory trees at Pondberry sites include, Quercus palustris, Acer rubrum var. drummondii and Liquidambar styraciflua. Also can be found with Pinus serotina and Pinus palustris.
|Approximately 40 populations remain extant. The majority occur in Arkansas and Mississippi. A single wild population persists in southern Missouri. The number of stems in any given site varies from a few to several hundred.|
Conservation, Ecology & Research
Limited reproduction in the wild--many colonies are exclusively male
Devall et al. (2001a & b) are studying the ecology and reproductive biology of this species.
Study reproductive biology, seed biology, and seedling ecology
Establish buffer zones around colonies in management areas
Implement public education programs
Cooper, J.E.; Robinson, S.S.; Funderburg, J.B. 1977. Endangered and threatened plants and animals of North Carolina. Raleigh, NC.: North Carolina State Museum Natural History. 444p.