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A genus of about forty-five species of evergreen or deciduous shrubs, natives mainly of Northern, Central, and South America, but with a few species in E. Asia. Leaves alternate. Flowers in axillary or terminal racemes. Calyx of five nearly free lobes, which are imbricate (i.e., overlapping) in the bud. Corolla urn-shaped or cylindrical. Stamens ten, included within the corolla; anthers with or without awns and always without spurs at the base. Seed-vessel a round, flattened, loculicidal capsule.
Some species of Gaultheria closely resemble Leucothoë but can always be distinguished by their fruits. Lyonia differs in having the sepals valvate in the bud (i.e. not or just touching but not overlapping). Pieris also has valvate sepals.
The chief cultural need of the leucothoës is a moist, peaty soil or a sandy lime-free loam with leaf-mould added; they prefer semi-shaded positions. Propagation is by cuttings of half-ripened shoots.