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Bransford, W.D. and Dolphia
Ledum groenlandicum Oeder
Bog Labrador tea, Rusty labrador-tea, Muskeg tea, Hudson's Bay tea, Labrador tea
Synonym(s): Ledum palustre ssp. groenlandicum, Ledum palustre var. latifolium, Rhododendron groenlandicum
USDA Symbol: LEGR
A low, evergreen shrub with densely hairy twigs and rounded, terminal clusters of white flowers. Rusty labrador-tea is a small, globular, broadleaf evergreen shrub, to 3 ft. tall, with a picturesque habit created by many erect stems and upright, spreading branches. The smooth, slightly cracked, bark is coppery-orange to reddish-brown. Thick, glossy, narrowly elliptic leaves are aromatic. Upright, bell-shaped flowers comprise flat-topped, terminal clusters.
This northern shrub, typical of acidic, boggy areas, can easily be recognized by the woolly brown undersurfaces of its leaves. A tea can be made from the leaves, as was done during the American Revolution. In northern Canada, the plant is known as Hudsonís Bay Tea.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Shrub Leaf:
Fruit: Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul , Aug
, WI Canada: AB
, SK Native Distribution:
Lab. to AK,
s. to PA,
n.e. OH, MI,
c. Sask. & n.w. OR Native Habitat:
Peat bogs; cold, damp woods; wet shores
Growing ConditionsWater Use:
Medium Light Requirement:
Sun , Part Shade , Shade Soil Moisture:
Moist , Wet Soil pH:
Acidic (pH<6.8) CaCO3 Tolerance:
Low Soil Description:
Acid, wet to moist organic soils, peats & mucks. Conditions Comments:
Ledum groenlandicum is a slow-growing, short-lived shrub
that demands acid soil. Occasional anthracnose is the only disease or pest problem. It is a very flood tolerant plant.
BenefitWarning: POISONOUS PARTS: All parts. Highly Toxic, May be Fatal if eaten. Symptoms include salivation, watering of eyes and nose, abdominal pain, loss of energy, depression, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, difficult breathing, progressive paralysis of arms and legs, coma. Toxic Principle: Andromedotoxin. (Poisonous Plants of N.C.)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Fragrant Flowers: yes
Interesting Foliage: yes
Fragrant Foliage: yes
Larval Host: Northern Blue butterfly (Lycaeides idas)
PropagationDescription: Layers and fall-collected cuttings can be used for propagation. Seeds should be sown on shaded peat moss. There is no dormancy and germination takes 2-3 weeks.
Seed Collection: Not Available
Seed Treatment: No pretreatment is necessary.
Commercially Avail: yes
Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)
is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
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.
Record Last Modified: 2010-11-06
Research By: TWC Staff