CPC Plant Profile: Sand-myrtle
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Plant Profile

Sand-myrtle (Leiophyllum buxifolium)

This evergreen shrub has white-pink flowers that appear in umbel-shaped clusters at the ends of leafy branches. Photo Credit: Tom Ward
  • Global Rank: G4 - Apparently Secure
  • Legal Status: N/A
  • Family: Ericaceae
  • State: FL, GA, KY, NC, NJ, PA, SC, TN
  • Nature Serve ID: 147866
  • Date Inducted in National Collection: 01/01/1985

This species is found in three disjunct locations in the United States: the New Jersey Pine Barrens, the Coastal Plain of North and South Carolina, and the southeastern Blue Ridge Province. (Strand and Wyatt 1991) It has yet to be resolved if plants at these three locations are members of the same species, or different varieties. (Radford et al. 1968) Leiphyllum buxifolium, or sand myrtle, is an evergreen shrub, with adventitious roots (Small 1933, Gleason 1952, Hightshoe 1988, Foote and Jones 1994); it is in a monotypic North American genus (a genus consisting of a single species). L. buxifolium is placed in the family Ericaceae because of its pollen structure; however, its flower rather resembles species from the Diapensiaceae family. The hermaphroditic pinkish-white flowers are arranged in umbel-shaped clusters and bloom during May. This shrub is only 0.2-1 m tall and can grow erect, prostrate, or decumbent stems, in accordance with location or altitude. Its flowers are white or pinkish, arranged in terminal umbel-shaped clusters (Dirr 1998).

Participating Institutions
CPC's Plant Sponsorship Program provides long term stewardship of rare plants in our National Collection. We are so grateful for all our donors who have made the Plant Sponsorship Program so successful. We are in the process of acknowledging all our wonderful plant sponsorship donors on our website. This is a work in progress and will be updated regularly.
Michael Kunz
  • 11/30/2021
  • Seed Collection

We successfully recollected seeds of Sand Myrtle in 2021.  Although it was a cold and misty day, NCBG staff navigated the rock outcrops at Grandfather Mountain to collect about 30,000 seeds and additional seeds representing 50 maternal lines from a large and healthy population. We shipped a portion of the seeds to NLGRP as part of the IMLS seed longevity project.  This collection was made possible by CPC and in coordination with Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation.

Center for Plant Conservation
  • 08/18/2021
  • Orthodox Seed Banking

In 2021, CPC contracted the North Carolina Botanical Garden to recollect seed from a population currently held in long term orthodox seed storage as part of an IMLS-funded seed longevity experiment. The National Laboratory for Genetic Resources Preservation will evaluate how germination tested viability and RNA Integrity of seed lots decline over time in storage.

  • 10/06/2020
  • Genetic Research

Strand and Wyatt (1991) used allozyme markers to study 12 populations from six different regions and found that species between regions showed some morphological differences but were not genetically different.

Nature Serve Biotics
  • 05/02/2017

Irina Kadis
  • 01/01/2010

Excessive recreational development of vulnerable coastal areas Road construction, right-of-way maintenance Human trampling Shoreline erosion Invasive species

Irina Kadis
  • 01/01/2010

Twelve populations were studied by Strand and Wyatt (1991), otherwise, the current status of this species is unknown.

Irina Kadis
  • 01/01/2010

Strand and Wyatt (1991) used allozyme markers to study 12 populations from six different regions and found that species between regions showed some morphological differences but were not genetically different.

Irina Kadis
  • 01/01/2010

There is no formal management plan for this species.

Irina Kadis
  • 01/01/2010

There is need to investigate the infraspecific taxa (varieties) within L. buxifolium and whether any of them deserve only a rank of form.


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Taxon Leiophyllum buxifolium
Authority (Persoon) Hedwig. f.
Family Ericaceae
CPC Number 4460
ITIS 23681
Common Names sandmyrtle | sand-myrtle
Associated Scientific Names Leiophyllum buxifolium | Kalmia buxifolia | Dendrium buxifolium | Leiophyllum hugeri | Leiophyllum lyonii
Distribution L. buxifolium is geographically fragmented; it occurs in southern New Jersey (pine barrens), west into the mountains of the Carolinas, Tennessee, eastern Kentucky, and in northern Georgia (var. prostr
State Rank
State State Rank
Florida SNR
Georgia S1
Kentucky SX
North Carolina S3
New Jersey S4
Pennsylvania SX
South Carolina SNR
Tennessee SNR

L. buxifolium grows in open, sandy habitats (Small 1933, Gleason 1952, Foote and Jones 1994). On coastal plains, it is found in sandy pine barrens on acidic soils. It also grows in rocky woods in piedmont and low mountains (on mountain crests).

Ecological Relationships

L. buxifolium is pollinated by small bees and flies and honeybees (Strand and Wyatt 1991).

Common Name Name in Text Association Type Source InteractionID
Lead Institution State Reintroduction Type Year of First Outplanting

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