Pondberry is an endangered shrub found on the coastal plain of Georgia and around the South. Its name comes from the bright red berries that form along the stem and its tendency to form dense thickets around the edges of natural ponds.
One reasons the Pondberry is rare is because it produces female flowers and male flowers on separate plants and colonies of a single gender can be widely separated by many miles, leading to lack of pollination. This challenge in pollination, combined with habitat loss due to ditching and draining of wetlands and destruction by feral hogs, led to its endangered status.
The Pondberry plays a crucial role as the larval host plant for spicebush swallowtail butterfly Papilia troilus, which lays its eggs on the lower surface of the leaves. When the eggs hatch, the caterpillars eat the leaves before forming a cocoon.
Sponsor the Pondberry to help increase numbers and chance of survival. About 20 populations are known, but less than half are protected on conservation land. Most of Georgia’s colonies have only male plants, which means they cannot set fruit or produce seed.
Found in: Baker, Calhoun, Effingham, Emanuel, Jenkins, Miller, Taylor, Wheeler and Worth counties.