Shrubs, to 2.5(–5) m. Stems erect to arching, usually sharply 3-angled. Leaves persistent; blade narrowly to widely elliptic, obovate, or slightly ovate, 1–8.5(–10.5) × 0.5–4.5(–5.5) cm, rigidly coriaceous, base attenuate or cuneate to rounded, margins entire, usually revolute, apex acuminate to acute, rarely rounded, surfaces scattered, multicellular, glandular short-headed-hairy, not lepidote, otherwise glabrous or hairy on midvein adaxially, intramarginal vein present. Inflorescences fascicles, developing from buds along distal portion of stems of previous year; bracts 1 per flower, linear-lanceolate, to 4 mm. Pedicels glandular-hairy, not lepidote. Flowers: calyx lobes 2–7.5 × 1–2 mm, glandular-hairy, not lepidote; corolla usually pink, sometimes white or red, cylindric (base swollen), 5–9 × 2–5 mm; filaments 3–5 mm, roughened, with 2 well-developed spurs. Capsules ovoid to ovoid-globose, 3–5 × 3–5 mm, apex slightly constricted, glabrous or short-headed-hairy; sutures usually remaining attached to adjacent valve; placentae central to nearly basal. 2n = 24.
Phenology: Flowering early spring–spring.
Habitat: Moist, acid, pine flatwoods and savannas, streamhead pocosins and baygalls, acid blackwater swamps, shrub bogs and peat-based pocosins, pond margins
Elevation: 0-200 m
Ala., Fla., Ga., La., Miss., N.C., S.C., Va., West Indies (Cuba).
Lyonia lucida is occasionally used as an ornamental; it is most closely related to L. mariana. The Cuban populations tend to have slightly longer and more densely hairy calyx lobes than do those of the southeastern United States.