The plants flowers from April to June and fruits in late summer (2) (5). When flowers of this species are cross-pollinated, the plant produces many seeds, but when they are self-pollinated, just a few seeds are produced (2). This plant can also reproduce asexually through creeping rhizomes (2).
The plants is often the first shrub to enter a bog after sphagnum moss has colonised, and establishes itself as the primary shrub (2). It is intolerant of shade, and becomes rarer as taller shrubs such as tamarack (Larix laricina) and black spruce (Picea mariana) establish themselves within the habitat (2). Recurrent fire has been suggested as a primary factor for the persistence of leatherleaf as a dominant plant, as this species’ deep rhizomes allow it to quickly recover from fire damage (2). The rapid growth and persistence of the leatherleaf allow it to revegetate large areas of bog that have been stripped for commercial peat removal (2) (3).
Leatherleaf is used for nesting and cover by wildlife including the ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbellus) and mallard (Anas platyrhynchos), it is eaten by sharp-tailed grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus), white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), caribou (Rangifer tarandus) and moose (Alces alces) (2).