(Photo above: close up of inflorescence.)
This morning I visited the North Tract’s Pitch Pine Barrens area and found a fairly good-sized patch of Staggerbush in full bloom. The showy flowers really stand out. The scientific of this ericad (member of the Heath Family – Ericaceae) is Lyonia mariana (L.) D. Don. Its native range is split in two. On the US East Coast, it is found from Southern New England to Florida, and again from Missouri to Texas. It is not found in between the two ranges.
Staggerbush is tolerant of a wide range of habitats from wet and boggy sites to well drained but wet sandy locations. As it is a constituent of the New Jersey Pine Barrens, it is not surprising to find it on the Pine Barrens on the Refuge. Its fruit is dry and splits open when ripe.
Gleason, Henry and Arthur Cronquist. 1991. Manual of Vascular Plants of Northeastern United States and Adjacent Canada. D. Van Nostrand Company. New York, New York. 910 pp.
Natural Resources Conservation Service, United States Department of Agriculture. Entry for Lyonia mariana. http://plants.usda.gov/core/profile?symbol=LYMA2