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Leiophyllum buxifolium ~ Mountain myrtle, Sand myrtle Plant Care Guide

“Most plants grow from their tips to add length. By contrast, grass grows from its base, emerging from a bud at, or just under, the soil surface, where sensitive growth tissues remain safe from the elements and hungry herds.” — Douglas Chadwick, The American Prairie, Root of the Sky, National Geographic, October 1993


ok this is and is not a plant care guide as there are no cultivated species of this plant, it is a wild flower of Tennessee and some other areas in North America.  Some states it is an endangered species so please check your area if interested in having in your native garden, i am certain the DNR could help you.

Center for Plant Conservation

Leiophyllum buxifolium

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).

Distribution & Occurrence

State Range

New Jersey
North Carolina
South Carolina
State Range of  Leiophyllum buxifolium


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).


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. prostratum). In North Carolina and South Carolina it can be found on coastal plains.

Number Left

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

Global Rank:
Guide to Global Ranks
Federal Status:
Guide to Federal Status
Recovery Plan:

State/Area Protection

State/Area Rank Status Date
Kentucky SX H 1/1/2002
Pennsylvania SX PX 6/11/2002

Conservation, Ecology & Research

Ecological Relationships

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


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

Current Research Summary

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.

Current Management Summary

There is no formal management plan for this species.

Research Management Needs

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

Ex Situ Needs


Books (Single Authors)

Dirr, M.A. 1998. Manual of Woody Landscape Plants. Champaign, Illinois: Stipes Publishing L. L. C.

Foote, L.E.; Jones, S.B., Jr. 1994. Native Shrubs and Woody Vines of the Southeast. Oregon: Timber Press.

Hightshoe, G.L. 1988. Native Trees, Shrubs, and Vines for Urban and Rural America. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold.

Radford, A.E.; Ahles, H.E.; Bell, C.R. 1968. Manual of the vascular flora of the Carolinas. Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press. 1183p.

Small, J.K. 1933. Manual of the southeastern flora. New York, NY: Hafner Publishing Company. 1505p.

Books (Sections)

Kartesz, J.T. 1999. A synonymized checklist of the vascular flora of the U.S., Canada, and Greenland. In: Kartesz, J.T.; Meacham, C.A., editors. Synthesis of the North American Flora, Version 1.0. North Carolina Botanical Garden. Chapel Hill, NC.

Electronic Sources

(2000). Showy Native Trees, Shrubs and Woody Vines. [Web site] NC State University. Accessed: 2002.

(2002). Leiophyllum buxifolium: Tour of Ericaceae Family. [Web site] American Rhododendron Society, Massachusetts Chapter. Accessed: 2002.

(2002). New York Metropolitan Flora Project: Metropolitan Plant Encyclopedia. [Searchable Web site] Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Accessed: 2002.

Journal Articles

Kron, K.A.; King, J.M. 1996. Cladistic Relationships of Kalmia, Leiophyllum, and Loiseleuria (Phyllodoceae, Ericaceae) Based on RBCL and NRITS Data. Systematic Botany. 21, 1: 17-29.

Schuyler, A.E.; Gordon, T. 2002. Rare plants in the Middle Branch of the Forked River watershed, Lacey Township, Ocean County, New Jersey. Bartonia. 21: 117-121.

Strand, A.E.; Wyatt, R. 1991. Geographical variation and biosystematics of Sand Myrtle, Leiophyllum buxifolium (Ericaceae). Systematic Botany. 16, 3: 529-45.

White, S.P. 1983. Evidence that temperate east North American evergreen woody plants follow corners rules. New Phytologist. 95, 1: 139-146.

Magazine Articles

Morse, L.E. 1988. Rare Plants of Appalacian Bedrock. The Nature Conservancy Magazine: 38.


Clemants, S. 1998. Sand Myrtle Technical Page. Brooklyn, NY: Brooklyn Botanic Garden. p.2. Web page.

Scientific Name
Leiophyllum buxifolium
Common Name
Mountain myrtle; Sand myrtle

Hardiness Zones: 5 to 7
Habit: Evergreen
Growth Rate: Slow
Site Requirements: Sun to partial shade; prefers moist, sandy, acidic soil enriched with organic matter; suffers during drought
Height: 1.5 to 3 feet
Width: 4 to 5 feet
Texture: Fine
Form: Erect, prostrate; compact, rounded
Flower/Fruit: Rosy buds; white flowers tipped with pink in early summer
Foliage: Alternate, simple, lustrous dark green leaves up to 0.5″ long; bronze winter color
Comments: Does not like drought or hot sites; native to portions of southeastern US


See Also ….

Name that Plant

Taylor’s Guide to Shrubs: How to Select and Grow More Than 500 Ornamental

Leiophyllum buxifolium Box Sandmyrtle  ~ Ericaceae

Sand-myrtle (Leiophyllum buxifolium)

Sand Myrtle – Leiophyllum buxifolium PDF

Kalmia buxifolia

Mountain Myrtle, Sand Myrtle – Leiophyllum buxifolium ~ Wildflowers of US


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