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A deciduous shrub 3 to 6 ft high, rigid and erect in habit, the bark on the older branches hanging in loose shreds; young shoots downy and hairy. Leaves alternate, obovate or narrowly oval, 3⁄4 to 2 in. long, 3⁄8 to 1 in. wide, tapered at both ends, more or less hairy on the upper surface and on the margins, with a few bristles on the midrib beneath. Flowers yellowish white or greenish and tinged with red, produced together with the young shoots in May in few-flowered clusters terminating the previous year’s branches; flower-stalk decurved, glandular-downy, 1⁄4 to 3⁄4 in. long. Sepals fringed with stalked glands. Corolla bell-shaped, 1⁄4 in. long, usually four-lobed; stamens eight, glabrous. Capsules egg-shaped, 1⁄4 in. long, covered with gland-tipped hairs. Bot. Mag., t. 1571.
Native of eastern N. America from Pennsylvania southwards, mostly in mountain woods; introduced in 1806. This is not one of the most attractive of the American Ericaceae, but was commonly grown in the older collections and is still obtainable in nurseries. It likes a peaty soil and should be increased by seeds.
M. ferruginea var. glabella (A. Gray) Peck