Okefenokee Fetterbush will make you stagger and shout!

Hurrah Bush, Lyonia lucida, is a woody shrub with pink bell shaped flowers. Also known as fetterbush or staggerbush. Photographed in spring in the Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, Georgia, USA. March 2020. ©www.williamwisephoto.com. Please don’t steal my images. Download and use legally from Dreamstime.com.

In the spring the Okefenokee Swamp shrubbery is decorated with delicate rows of tiny pink and white bells. These small flowers are of the Lyonia bush. Although they look and smell like a sweet Valentine’s Day treat, they haven’t always been thought of so fondly, as revealed by a few of their common names: fetterbush, staggerbush and hurrah bush.

Fetterbush grows thickly and is often entangled with other shrubs and vines, such as the well-armed greenbrier. Being so thick, it fetters the legs of anyone attempting cross the swamp on foot. Fetters were prisoners’ iron shackles in a less politically correct age. In fact, when his weakness was exploited, the Biblical strongman Samson was “bound in fetters of brass to grind in the prison house.”

Lyonia’s other common name, Hurrah bush, comes from the exclamatory shout for joy made by the swamp adventurer that finally makes it through the thickets and staggers into a clearing. There are several narrow canoe trails lined with thickets that my daughter despises paddling through. For it seems that not only is Fetterbush tipped with cute little flowers, but also with creepy little spiders waiting to jump into your kayak!


Sources:

https://plants.ces.ncsu.edu/plants/lyonia-lucida/

Schoettle, Taylor. A Naturalist’s Guide to the Okefenokee Swamp. Darien, Sea to Sea Printing and Publishing, 2019.

iNaturalist observation: https://www.inaturalist.org/observations/45350400

Published by William Wise

Hi, I’m conservation photographer and nature writer William Wise. Nature journaling and wildlife photography has been a favorite pastime since the ‘90s. I graduated from University of Georgia Warnell Forestry School's wildlife program in 1996. I'm currently an animal shelter manager/photographer and reside in Athens, Georgia, USA with my wife and two teenage daughters. My website www.williamwisephoto.com is a wildlife and birding photo website documenting the beauty, design and wonder of creation. I have a deep love of the Okefenokee Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia. I became a devoted Christian in 1993 under a campus ministry while studying wildlife biology. My love of the outdoors quickly turned into a love for the Creator and His works. Creation Speaks is my teaching ministry that glorifies our Creator and teaches the truth of creation. I am also a guest author at Lee's Birdwatching Adventures and The Creation Club. The theme of my blogging comes from The Message version of Psalms 104 -- "What a wildly wonderful world, God! You made it all, with Wisdom at Your side, You made earth overflow with your wonderful creations."

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