New York Metropolitan Flora

Eubotrys racemosa (L.) Nutt. - Sweetbells

Leucothoe racemosa
Eubotrys racemosa (L.) Nutt.


Photo © Steven Clemants, 1996, taken at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Native , Frequent

By Steven Clemants

Not peer reviewed

Last Modified 04/08/2013

Back to Eubotrys

Eubotrys racemosa
=Leucothoe racemosa (L.) A. Gray

Common Names


Field Identification

A deciduous shrub with elliptic leaves, horizontal racemes of white, vase-shaped flowers, and persistent capsules.

Common names





*Andromeda racemosa L., Sp. Pl. 1: 394. 1753. *Lyonia racemosa (L.) D. Don, Edinburgh New Philos. J. 17: 159. 1834. *Cassandra racemosa (L.) Spach, Hist. Nat. Vég. 9: 478. 1838. *Zenobia racemosa (L.) DC., Prodr. 7(2): 598. 1839. *Eubotrys racemosa (L.) Nutt., Trans. Amer. Phil. Soc., n.s. 8: 269. 1843. *Leucothoe racemosa (L.) A. Gray, Manual, ed. 2, 252. 1856. TYPE: United States. Pennsylvania: Kalm s.n. (Holotype: LINN?).

*Andromeda paniculata L., Sp. Pl. 1: 394. 1753. TYPE: Type not designated. Apparently four elements.

*Andromeda elegans Meerb., Pl. Select. Icon. Pict., p. [8], t. 27. 1798. TYPE: Type not cited, probably the published plate should be considered the type.

*Andromeda spicata P. Watson, Dendrol. Brit. 1: pl. 36. 1825. *Leucothoe spicata (P. Watson) G. Don, Gen. Hist. 3: 832. 1834. TYPE: Type not cited, cultivated material? ("Mr. Knight's, King's Road, Chelsea.").

*Leucothoe elongata Small, Bull. New York Bot. Gard. 1: 284. 1899. *Eubotrys elongata (Small) Small, Shrubs Florida 95, 133. 1913. *Leucothoe racemosa var. elongata (Small) Fernald, Rhodora 41: 554, pl. 578, fig. 4. 1939. TYPE: Type not designated, several elements. [long racemes, pilose branches and rachises, ciliate sepals]

*Leucothoe racemosa var. projecta Fernald, Rhodora 41: 553, t. 578, fig. 1-2. 1939. TYPE: United States. Virginia: Dinwiddie Co.; near Steere's Pond, NE of Burgess Station, 19 May 1939, M. L. Fernald & B. Long 100003 (Holotype: GH! #00015097; Isotype: PH, US!). [longer racemes and larger flowers]


HABIT perennial, deciduous, phanerophyte, shrubs, autotrophic, monoclinous, with fibrous roots, 1-4 m tall, not modified or with rhizomes (?).

STEMS erect, round, not winged, "regular". Prickles absent. Bark fibrous, exfoliating, dark gray. Branches erect or ascending, dark gray, round, not winged, 1.6 mm in diam. Twigs gray, not odoriferous, round, 1.4-1.7 mm in diam., smooth, glabrous, without glands. Pith present, light orange-yellow, round, continuous. Nodal diaphragms absent. Thorns absent. Aerial roots absent. Sap translucent. Resin absent.

BUDS terminal and axillary buds monomorphic. Terminal bud present, ovoid, 1 mm long, blunt. Axillary buds present, 1, ovoid, 1 mm long, blunt. Bud scales 7, dark red, imbricate, ovoid, chartaceous, obtuse, glabrous, without glands. Leaf scars crescent shaped, 0.6 mm high, 0.9 mm wide, glabrous. Vascular bundle scars 1, U-shaped, 0.2 mm tall.

LEAVES alternate, 1 per node, spaced ± evenly along stem, divergent from stem, simple. Stipules absent. Leaves petiolate, petiole "typical", 0.2-1 cm long, hairs short and unbranched, spreading, unicellular, uniseriate, sparse, throughout, not glabrescent, without glands. Leaf: abaxial surface green, adaxial surface green, blades elliptic or narrowly elliptic, plane, symmetric, 3.3-8.7 cm long, 1.5-4.1 cm wide, coriaceous, base cuneate, margin dentate, apex acute or acuminate, abaxial surface hairs short and unbranched or hairs long and unbranched, erect or appressed, unicellular or multicellular, uniseriate or multiseriate, white, sparse, throughout or along midveins, not glabrescent, glands present, glands at apex of hairs, dark red, adaxial surface hairs short and unbranched, appressed, multicellular, multiseriate, white, sparse, throughout, not glabrescent, glands present, glands at apex of hairs, dark red. Brochidodromous venation (?), veins 4. Leaf lobes absent. Spines absent. Tendrils absent.

INFLORESCENCES monomorphic, regular or, if dimorphic, female inflorescence simple, raceme, terminal and axillary. Peduncle absent. Rachis present, 2-10 cm long, with bracts. Bracts sessile, blades: abaxial surface green (?), adaxial surface green (?), lanceolate, plane, 6 mm long, 1 mm wide, base cuneate, margin serrulate, apex acuminate, abaxial surface glabrous, without glands, adaxial surface glabrous, without glands. Pedicel 0.6-2 mm long, glabrous, without glands. Bracteoles 2, sessile, at apex of pedicel, not connate, bracteoles: abaxial surface light orange-yellow (?), bracteole: adaxial surface light orange-yellow (?), ovate, curved, 1.8 mm long, 1.2 mm wide, base truncate, margin entire, apex acute. Cupules absent.

FLOWERS serotinous, formed on short shoots, monomorphic, with sepals and petals readily distinguishable from one another, bisexual, flowers white or light red, 5-merous, 6-7.2(-9) mm long, 2.4-3 mm wide, 4-17 flowers per inflorescence, perianth of two whorls. Calyx present, actinomorphic, acetabuliform (?), of free sepals, persistent, abaxial and adaxial surfaces the same color, dark reddish orange, 3 mm long, 4.7 mm wide. Sepals or sepal lobes 5, rhombic, 2.5 mm long, 1.2 mm wide, base truncate, margin ciliate (ciliolate), apex acute, abaxial surface glabrous, without glands, adaxial surface glabrous, without glands. Epicalyx absent. Corolla present, actinomorphic, urceolate, of fused petals, deciduous, abaxial and adaxial surfaces the same color, white or light red, 6 mm long, 3 mm wide, corolla limb 0.8 mm long, 3.8 mm wide. Petals or petal lobes 5, "normal", oblate or transversely elliptic, 0.8 mm long, 1.2 mm wide, base truncate, margin entire, apex obtuse, abaxial surface glabrous, without glands, adaxial surface glabrous, without glands. Gynoecium syncarpous. Carpels 5. Stigmas 1, truncate. Styles persistent, 1, 5.5 mm long. Ovary superior, nectiferous disk present. Locules 5. Placentation axile. Androecium obdiplostemonous. Stamens 10, 4 mm long. Opening by pores, opening 1/4 of entire anther, bithecal, light yellowish orange, glabrous, awned, with 2 awns per anther. Filaments free, straight, white or light red, glabrous. Staminodes absent.

FRUITS loculicidal capsule, dark gray or black, globose, 2.5 mm long, 2.5 mm wide, glabrous, without glands.

SEEDS many, orange-yellow, wedge shaped, 0.6 mm long, 0.5 mm wide, wingless, not tailed, reticulate-foveate or reticulate.


(Wherry, 1920)

Wet areas (cedar swamps, shrub fens, shores, and bogs) and dry areas (oak woods) growing in wet sphagnum peat or wet and dry upland peat, with a soil pH of 4.5-5.5.

Rarity Status

Heritage global rank -- ?

Connecticut -- Not listed

New Jersey -- Not listed

New York -- Not listed

Species Biology


May [week 2] - July [week 1].




July [week 4] - October [week 2], old fruit persisting until June.