Lyonia lucida is an understory shrub associated with longleaf-slash pine, loblolly- shortleaf pine, oak-pine, oak-hickory, oak-gum- cypress and wet grassland communities (Van Deelen, 1991). In north-central Florida, fetterbush can occur near creeks, rivers, sloughs and depressions (Monk, 1966b). Lyonia lucida is also found in nutrient poor swamps and bogs (Monk, 1966a: 504).
It is a hardy plant that grows in moist to fairly dry soils and in partial shade to full sun. Lyonia lucida commonly grows in extremely acidic soil (Van Deelen 1991) and nutirent-poor soils (Avers & Bracy, 1975: 94).. In the Osceola National Forest Lyonia lucida is found growing in acidic soils (pH 4.0 to 5.5).
Due to nutrient limitations Lyonia lucida was found to have lower rates of net photosynthesis than Itea virginica a deciduous shrub in Okefenokee Swamp (DeLucia, 1995: 20). However, enrichment of nitrogen and phosphorus, growth rates can increase (Simms, 1985: 48). In addition, Lyonia lucida has relatively long leaf life span (18 months, approximately)(DeLucia, 1995: 26). However, in terms of physiological difference between deciduous shrubs and evergreen shrubs, there is little distinction between the two (DeLucia, 1995: 26).
Avers, P. E. & Bracy, K.C. 1975. Soils and physiography of the Osceola National Forest, 94. Olustee, Florida: U.S. Forestry Service.
DeLucia, E. H. & Schlesinger, W. H. 1995. Photosynthetic rates and nutrient-use efficiency among evergreen and deciduous shrubs in Okefenokee Swamp. International Journal of Plant Sciences 156: 19-28; available at: http://www.life.illinois.edu/delucia/Okefenokee.pdf; accessed on: Oct 10, 2012.
Monk, C. D. 1966a. An ecological significance of evergreenness. Ecology 47: 504-505.
Monk, C. D. 1966b. An ecological study of hardwood swamps in north-central Florida. Ecology 47: 649-654.
Van Deelen, V. & Timothy, R. 1991. Lyonia lucida. In: Fire Effects Information System. U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station, Fire Sciences Laboratory, available at: http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/; accessed on: Oct 10, 2012.