Content Detail

Corkwood is a rare, colony-forming shrub (occasionally tree), found in wet areas along the coast of Florida and Texas. The elliptical leaves are leathery and remain late into the fall. An interesting choice for wet areas. May be difficult to find in the nursery trade.

  • Family (English) Corkwood
  • Family (botanic) Leitneriaceae
  • Tree or plant type Shrub
  • Native locale North America
  • Size range Large shrub (more than 8 feet), Small tree (15-25 feet)
  • Light exposure Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily), Full sun (6 hrs direct light daily), Partial sun / shade (4-6 hrs light daily)
  • Hardiness zones Zone 5 (Northern Illinois), Zone 6 (City of Chicago), Zone 7, Zone 8, Zone 9
  • Soil preference Wet soil
  • Tolerances Wet sites
  • Season of interest early summer, late summer, midsummer
  • Flower color and fragrance Inconspicuous
  • Shape or form Multi-stemmed, Open
  • Growth rate Moderate

Size and form:

A dense, colony-forming shrub to small tree reaching 6 to 12 feet high and 20 feet wide.

Native geographic location and habitat:

It is found in wet areas and along coastal regions of the southeastern United States from Arkansas, Florida, Missouri, and Texas.

Bark color and texture:

Its bark is light colored and extremely light, often used to make corks

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture:

Leaves are alternate, simple, entire, lanceolate to elliptical, and grow up to 6 inches long. Leaves are leathery, dark green and gray-green underneath.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size:

Flowers are dioecious. Male catkins appear before the leaves in clusters. Female flowers are inconspicuous and reddish catkins.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions:

Fruits are a 2 to 4 inch flattened olive green drupe and resembles a small leathery plum.

Plant care:

It requires moist to wet sites in full sun to shade. This shrub forms dense colonies and thickets. It can be pruned to the ground to rejuvenate large patches. Drought sensitive so water in dry periods.

List of pests, diseases, and tolerances:

This shrub has no serious insects or diseases.


Your support is vital to the Arboretum, where the power of trees makes a positive impact on people’s lives.

Make a gift