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Bransford, W.D. and Dolphia
Kalmia latifolia L.
Mountain laurel, Calico bush, Kalmia
Synonym(s): Kalmia latifolia var. laevipes
USDA Symbol: KALA
USDA Native Status: L48 (N)
The broadleaf evergreen mountain-laurel is usually a 12-20 ft. shrub, but is occasionally taller and single-trunked, attaining small tree stature. Evergreen, many-stemmed, thicket-forming shrub or sometimes a small tree with short, crooked trunk; stout, spreading branches; a compact, rounded crown; and beautiful, large, pink flower clusters. Its flowers are very showy. They are bell-shaped, white to pink with deep rose spots inside, and occur in flat-topped clusters. The leaves are oval, leathery, and glossy, and change from light-green to dark-green to purple throughout the year.
Mountain Laurel is one of the most beautiful native flowering shrubs and is well displayed as an ornamental in many parks. The stamens of the flowers have an odd, springlike mechanism which spreads pollen when tripped by a bee. The wood has been used for tool handles and turnery, and the burls, or hard knotlike growths, for briar tobacco pipes. Linnaeus named this genus for his student Peter Kalm (1716-79), a Swedish botanist who traveled in Canada and the eastern United States.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Shrub Root Type: Tap Leaf:
Brown Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Pink
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul
, WV Canada: ON Native Distribution: FL
Panhandle to LA,
n. to N.B., s. Ont. & Ohio R. valley of IN Native Habitat:
Wet to dry woods & pastures; cool meadows & slopes
Growing ConditionsWater Use: Low
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: None
Soil Description: Cool, moist rocky or sandy soils.
BenefitWarning: 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.)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
PropagationSeed Collection: Seeds are tiny and mature late.
Seed Treatment: Germination is enhanced by cold-moist stratification.
Commercially Avail: yes
Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)
is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
Mr. Smarty Plants says
Flowering and evergreen shrubs for landscape in Indiana
May 29, 2010
I live in Southern Indiana and we are getting ready to redesign our front landscape. Currently, we have some yews and other shrubs that are unruly and require a lot of pruning and care. My husband hat...
view the full question and answer
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
National Wetland Indicator Status
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1
(Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here
for map of regions.
From the ArchiveWildflower Newsletter1988 VOL. 5, NO.2
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Record Last Modified: 2013-09-08
Research By: TWC Staff