Fetterbush is a showy and handsome evergreen shrub found in bogs, bays, swamps, wet woodlands, and low pinelands. It thrives in the sandy, acidic soil of the Coastal Plain. Fetterbush grows between Louisiana and Florida and north to Virginia.
The pinkish flowers are an important source of nectar. White-tailed deer occasionally browse on this plant.
Fetterbush is distinguished by its smooth leaf surfaces. The leaves are leathery and pointed at the tip. The oval-shaped flowers are ¼" long, occur in clusters, and bloom between March and June on branches from the previous season. The flower stalks are up to ½" long and slightly hairy.
Five species of Lyonia occur in the southeast. Fetterbush may be mistaken for one of these species, maleberry (Lyonia ligustrina). Both plants are similar in height and leaf description; however, maleberry is deciduous while fetterbush is persistent. Also, maleberry flowers are white and fetterbush has pink or pink-white flowers.