Appalachia Wildflowers & Trees Of Appalachia



doghobble noun A common evergreen shrub (Leucothoe spp) having dense, tangled limbs and branches. [DARE labels this term “chiefly southern Appalachians”]

1926 Hunnicutt Twenty Years 124 This gave the coon a minute start and it went into the dog hobble … Dog hobble is an evergreen vine, and I began to think that she was not going to catch up with the coon at all. 1963 Lord Blue Ridge Guide 22-23D The dog hobble is the exasperation of the bear hunter and his dogs. The bear can “brute” his way through the bramble of bushes, but dogs and hunters get all hobbled up. The leaves and blossoms of dog-hobble resemble those of fetterbush, but each plant groups its own way. Fetterbush is an upright shrub; dog-hobble is low and fern-like. 2006 Ellison Nature Journal 36-37 Sometimes called drooping leucothoe, switch ivy or fetterbush, highland doghobble is one of the more common shrubs in the southern mountains, especially the Blue Ridge portions of North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina and Georgia … It’s the arching branches that are doghobble’s primary claim to fame. These often rot at their tips, creating an extensive tangle that is almost impenetrable. A black bear fleeing hunting dogs will intuitively head for a doghobble tangle situated on a steep slope, which it can easily bound through going upgrade. Pursuing dogs and hunters are quickly left behind, “doghobbled” by the rooted branches and sharp leaves.

Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English

I believe the first time I ever saw a patch of doghobble was on a hike with Don Casada. He explained what it was to me and probably the only reason it stuck in my mind was that I had never seen it before even though I’ve tramped through the woods a lot in my lifetime.

Earlier this year as we walked in the woods near our home I was surprised to see a big ole patch of doghobble. I don’t ever recall seeing it in the woods here before, but it’s certainly found a home in the area I noticed it and has almost completely taken over the old road bed and bank where it lays.


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  • Reply
    July 23, 2021 at 6:48 pm

    Tipper, if you haven’t already ‘dictionaried’ it, you’ve got a good word in the first sentence of your last paragraph, ‘ole’. And it has multiple uses – big ole, little ole, cutest ole, sweetest ole, cussedest ole, ugliest ole.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    July 22, 2021 at 4:40 pm

    I often see things that have always been there but that I had never noticed before. We get so focused on where we are going that we fail to see all that surrounds us. We got to stop and smell the doghobble!
    Does it even have a smell?

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    July 22, 2021 at 12:46 pm

    That’s a new one on me, tip!

  • Reply
    July 22, 2021 at 11:48 am

    I just love your family!!!! You all remind me of my kin of southern Ohio. Some people say that the southern part of Ohio is the end of the Appalachians, and some people don’t even believe it’s part of the Appalachians at all. Well I believe that we all are connected . I love most everything about you all like we are related. My Great Grandma was a Buffngton and her daddy was in the Civil War. Fought for the North of course. I’ve heard a lot of what you talk about and love you for sharing. All my older folks are gone now.But you put a smile on my face most often!!! Keep up the GREAT work!!!GOD BLESS YOU ALL!!!

  • Reply
    July 22, 2021 at 9:29 am

    Learned something new. After all these years I now know the name of this infernal plant that has caused me to take so many detours in the mountains.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    July 22, 2021 at 9:15 am

    Old road beds are definitely doghobble friendly, as you found. They like wet feet, and the leveled road bed suits that. As far as the bank, I wonder if that is mostly along the lower part of the bank, near the ditch.

    I’ve waded through doghobble patches enough to be able to say it also qualifies as Manhobble – or at least Donhobble. Most of that was trying to follow an old roads to home places. The serrated edges won’t cut you, but they will needle you. The struggle is all in pulling your legs through the stuff.

    It does have pretty clusters of bell-like blooms which put out a sweet smell when fresh. But when they’re overripe, it turns to sickly sweet.

    Doghobble patches can be pleasant to the nose and eye when they bloom in

  • Reply
    July 22, 2021 at 9:03 am

    I have never heard of Doghobble, but have gotten into some entanglements trying to walk in the woods. Thanks to Don Casada for the new word. My cousin was stung by a Packsaddle, and he spoke of how bad the sting was. I immediately looked it up on Google, and there in the midst of the results was a post from the Blind Pig. I do not know how I ever got grown in Appalachia without learning some of these words and how to identify if found in the mountains. Once you hear about it or identify what it looks like, it seems you start seeing them everywhere.

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    July 22, 2021 at 8:09 am

    You are a noticing kind of person. The appearance of dog hobble where none had been is an illustration that nature is changing all the time. It isn’t noticeable in single visits because there is no comparison but repeated visits to the same place coupled with paying close attention tells the tale. Birds spread seeds all the time and some of them establish even in undisturbed woods. Others are just waiting for more light.

    Back in the day when I did forest inventory in VA and TN, I dreaded having to follow a compass line through dog hobble. With it rooted at both ends and having an arc in the middle it was easy to get tangled up. It is pretty though if you don’t have to get in it.

  • Reply
    Brad Byers
    July 22, 2021 at 7:29 am

    I learned a new word again! Thanks for including this one on BPATA! We call thick patches of brambles and briars “shintangle”. I think it may have a similar meaning. We might say “The dog had to get in that shintangle to kick the rabbits out. They was sitting tight!”

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