Leucothoe fontanesiana 'Zeblid' SCARLETTA
Common Name: drooping laurel 
Type: Broadleaf evergreen
Family: Ericaceae
Zone: 5 to 8
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Bloom Time: May
Bloom Description: White
Sun: Part shade to full shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge, Naturalize
Flower: Showy
Leaf: Colorful, Good Fall, Evergreen
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Heavy Shade, Erosion


Best grown in moist, acidic, organically rich, cool, sandy to clay, well-drained loams in part shade. Can be grown in full sun, but must have consistent moisture. Tolerates full shade. Does not tolerate drought or windy conditions. Although winter hardy to USDA Zone 5, this shrub should be planted in a protected location and given a good winter mulch in the St. Louis area to insure winter survival. Plants will sucker to form colonies over time.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Leucothoe fontanesiana, commonly called drooping laurel, is a suckering, multi-stemmed, broadleaf evergreen shrub with arching branches that is native to moist forested mountain areas, dense thickets, stream banks and ravines from New York south to Alabama and Georgia, primarily in the Appalachian Mountains. It typically grows in a mound to 3-6' tall and as wide. Drooping spikes of waxy, urn-shaped, creamy white flowers droop from the leaf axils in spring (May). Leathery, lanceolate, evergreen leaves (to 5" long) have serrulate margins and taper to a long point.

Genus name honors Leucothoe, one of the many loves of Apollo.

'Zeblid', sold in commerce under the trade name of SCARLETTA, is a denser, slower growing, more compact, and more symmetrical shrub than the species. It typically grows to 3' tall and as wide over the first 10 years. It is the product of a breeding program conducted in Perry, Ohio in the late 1970s in which the goal was to pollinate the species herein with Leucothoe axillaris to create a new variety which would combine the winter hardiness of the species with the dwarf growth habit of Leucothoe axillaris and to simultaneously improve the foliage coloration enjoyed by both parents. The cross, however, could not be confirmed, hence the retension of the maternal species. The result was 'Zeblid' which is a more symmetrical cultivar that is winter hardy to USDA Zone 5 and is particularly noted for its excellent year round foliage: (a) bright scarlet new growth in spring emerges from deep green foliage clumps, (b) excellent glossy deep green mature summer foliage, (c) burgundy red fall color which extends through winter as bronze to purplish red. U.S. Plant Patent PP5,195 was issued on February 28, 1994.


No serious insect or disease problems. Leaf spot can cause significant problems to the foliage in areas with poor air circulation.


Woodland or shade garden. Naturalized areas. Stabilize banks. Hedges.