Leatherwood Creek exists on early maps of Virginia.
Map of 1751 is one map with enough
detail to show a Leatherhead Creek
where Leatherwood Creek flows today.
Leatherhead may have been simply a
misspelling of Leatherwood.
In 1772 an explorer/adventurer named
John F.D. Smyth documented the Leatherwood
Creek and Wart Mountain in his travels
from Hillsborough in present day North
Carolina to Kentucky.
Henry lived in the area of Leatherwood
Creek from 1779 to 1784 on a 10,000
acre holding named Leatherwood Estate.
If you like things orderly
here is the U.S.D.A botanical classification
for Leatherwood (which differs slightly from the Wilipedia entry in the Order name):
- Kingdom Plantae - Plants
- Subkingdom Tracheobionta - Vascular
- Superdivision Spermatophyta
– Seed plants
- Division Magnoliophyta - Flowering
- Class Magnoliopsida - Dicotyledons
- Subclass Rosidae
- Order Myrtales
- Family Thymelaeaceae - Mezereum
- Genus Dirca L. - leatherwood
- Species Dirca palustris L. -
Leatherwood Distribution by States
Leatherwood Distribution by Virginia
through this we see that Leatherwood
is part of the Myrtle family: Evening
Primrose, Pomegranate, Waterchestnut,
Loosestrife and others but even more
closely related to Daphne, Paperbush,
False Ohelo, Lagetta and Burn Nose.
Some of these are native to the U.S.
and some are not. Botany majors will
appreciate that Leatherwood has an
alternate leaf arrangement, no terminal
buds, lateral buds hidden by a petiole
and conical in shape with 4 hairy
scales, simple and deciduous leaves
of an obvate shape, with a gray to
reddish drupe type fruit which ripens
in mid summer and yields 1 large brownish
seed. The stems are light greenish
brown and slender with white lenticels.
The stems are aromatic when crushed.
Leatherwood prefers moist deep soils
and may be propagated by seed or layering.
All parts of the leatherwood are somewhat
poisonous: minor skin irritation when
touched, low toxicity if ingested.
Leatherwood is rare now in Henry
County. Report native or naturalized
Description of Leatherwood from Thoreau's journal >