Leatherleaf (Chamaedaphne calyculata) is common and abundant shrub of northern wetlands. It occurs throughout northern Europe and Asia and northern North America. In Minnesota it occurs in the north-central and northeast regions south to the Metro region. It is found in open areas in bogs, marshes, swamps, and floodplains, and on riverbanks and lakeshores. It grows under full sun in acidic, nutrient-poor soils. It is the dominant shrub of dwarf shrub wetland communities.
Leatherleaf is a perennial, evergreen, dwarf shrub. It can be 8″ to 60″ tall but is usually no more than 40″ in height. It often forms dense thickets. The stems have many stiff, wiry branches. The leaves often point upward from the stem. The leaf underside is densely covered with white or rust-colored scales. The inflorescence is an unbranched cluster of up to 20 small flowers hanging downward at the end of the stem and branches. The white, urn-shaped flowers appear from early May through mid-June. Flattened globe-shaped fruits ripen in the fall and remain on the plant through the winter.