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Kalmia angustifolia L.
Sheep laurel, Lambkill kalmia, Lambkill
USDA Symbol: kaan
USDA Native Status: Native to U.S.
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 CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Shrub Root Type: Tap Leaf Complexity: Simple Leaf Shape: Elliptic Leaf:
Green above, pale green below Flower:
Brown Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: Red , Purple
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul
CT , DC , DE , MA , MD , ME , MI , NH , NJ , NY , PA , RI , VA , VT , WV Canada: MB
, 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 USDA Native Status: L48(N), CAN(N),
Growing ConditionsLight 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.
BenefitUse 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)
is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
PropagationSeed Collection: Seeds are tiny and mature late.
Seed Treatment: Not Available
Commercially Avail: yes
Mr. Smarty Plants says
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
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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...
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From the National Organizations Directory
According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:
Delaware Nature Society
- Hockessin, DE
Recommended Species Lists
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Record Modified: 2012-10-15
Research By: TWC Staff