Herb: Leather Leaf

Latin name: Chamaedaphne calyculata

Synonyms: Andromeda calyculata

Family: Ericaceae (Heath Family)

Medicinal use of Leather Leaf:

A poultice of the leaves has been applied to inflammations. An infusion of the leaves has been used to treat fevers.

Description of the plant:


75 cm
(2 feet)

to June


Habitat of the herb:

Peaty swales, bogs, pine barrens, pond margins etc.

Edible parts of Leather Leaf:

An aromatic tea-like beverage is brewed from the fresh or dried leaves. Some reports say that boiling or steeping can extract a harmful toxin "andromedotoxin" and it is recommended that the leaves are put in a jar of water and left in a sunny position to brew in order to make "sun-tea".

Propagation of the herb:

Seed - sow February in a lime-free compost in a greenhouse and only just cover the seed. Do not allow the compost to dry out and keep the pot in a shady position. Germination is usually fair, taking 1 - 12 months at 15C, though 4 weeks cold stratification may reduce this time. When they are large enough to handle, prick the seedlings out into individual pots and grow them on in a greenhouse for at least their first winter. Plant them out into their permanent positions in late spring or early summer, after the last expected frosts. Cuttings of almost ripe side-shoots, 4 - 5cm long with a heel, August in a frame. A variable degree of success. It can help to prune the plants lightly after flowering in order to encourage vigorous growth from which to take the cuttings. Layering in August. Takes 18 months. High percentage.

Cultivation of Leather Leaf:

Peaty swales, bogs, pine barrens, pond margins etc.

Known hazards of Chamaedaphne calyculata:

A toxin, called 'andromedotoxin' can be released from the plant if it is infused in boiling water. See notes below regarding use of the plant for tea.

Plant information taken from the Plants For A Future.