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Kalmia angustifolia (Sheep laurel) | NPIN
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Kalmia angustifolia (Sheep laurel)
Smith, R.W.

Kalmia angustifolia

Kalmia angustifolia L.

Sheep laurel, Lambkill kalmia, Lambkill

Ericaceae (Heath Family)

Synonym(s):

USDA Symbol: KAAN

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N), SPM (N)

A small, mat-forming shrub growing 3 ft. tall and usually twice as wide. An evergreen shrub with small, deep pink, saucer-shaped flowers in dense clusters around stem, mostly below leaves. Stems trail on the ground, ending in erect branch tips. The glossy, narrowly-oval, leathery leaves are blue-green and turn reddish-green to purple in fall. The flower is a small, purple to red bell, scattered in clusters along the stems.

Because of its colonial habit, Sheep Laurel can form sizable stands. The flowers are miniatures of the larger Mountain Laurel (K. latifolia). Pale Laurel (K. polifolia), also known as Bog Laurel, has pink flowers in terminal clusters, 2-edged twigs, and opposite leaves with rolled edges, very white beneath; it is a northern bog plant and occurs only as far south as northern New Jersey and Pennsylvania. Two other species of Kalmia are found in the southern United States. The genus name honors Peter Kalm, a student of Linnaeus, who traveled and collected plants in the Americas in the 18th century.

 

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Root Type: Tap
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Leaf Shape: Elliptic
Leaf: Green above, pale green below
Flower: Flowers3/8 inch
Fruit: Brown
Size Class: 1-3 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Red , Purple
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul

Distribution

USA: CT , DC , DE , MA , MD , ME , MI , NH , NJ , NY , PA , RI , VA , VT , WV
Canada: MB , NB , NS , PE
Native Distribution: Lab. to Ont., s., primarily through e. portion of e. states, to GA; also n. MI
Native Habitat: Wet or dry pastures & thickets; swamp & bog borders; wooded stream banks

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Wet
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
Soil Description: Wet/organic to dry/sterile soils.
Conditions Comments: Will develop chlorosis caused by iron deficiency if located on limy soils. Slow-growing. Dead-heading encourages better blooms in the following years.

Benefit

Use Wildlife: Low.
Warning: POISONOUS PARTS: All parts. Highly Toxic, Maybe Be Fatal if Eaten! Symptoms include: salivation, watering of eyes and nose, slow pulse, nausea, vomiting, sweating, abdominal pain, headache, tingling of skin, lack of coordination, convulsions, paralysis. Toxic Principle: Andromedotoxin, a resinoid; arbutin, a glycoside. (Poisonous Plants of N.C.)

Sheep Laurel has another common name, lambkill, referring to the fact that this plant is poisonous to sheep and domestic cattle, althought it apparently has no effect on deer. (Strickland)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Birds , Butterflies
Larval Host: Columbia silkmoth, Northern Blue butterfly (Lycaeides idas).

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Kalmia angustifolia is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
Northern Blue
(Plebejus idas)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA
Columbia silkmoth
(Hyalophora columbia)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA

Propagation

Seed Collection: Seeds are tiny and mature late.
Seed Treatment: Not Available
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Plant identfication
October 21, 2009
Hi...Can you please identfy the tall, evergreen shrub with purple plum-colored foliage that I have noticed in winter locally?...Hope so, need he color! THX
view the full question and answer

Evergreen shrubs for Michigan
June 17, 2008
I'm seeking a small-medium, ornamental, fairly compact, evergreen shrub to complement my front yard woodland wildflower garden. I want a shrub that will flank both sides of my front porch steps. I wa...
view the full question and answer

From the National Suppliers Directory

According to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:

Edge of the Woods Native Plant Nursery - Orefield, PA
LAMTREE FARM - Warrensville, NC

From the National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE

Bibliography

Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Recommended Species Lists

Find native plant species by state. Each list contains commercially available species suitable for gardens and planned landscapes. Once you have selected a collection, you can browse the collection or search within it using the combination search.

View Recommended Species page

Additional resources

USDA: Find Kalmia angustifolia in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Kalmia angustifolia in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Kalmia angustifolia

Metadata

Record Modified: 2012-10-15
Research By: TWC Staff

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