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Kalmia latifolia (Mountain laurel) | NPIN
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Kalmia latifolia (Mountain laurel)
Bransford, W.D. and Dolphia

Kalmia latifolia

Kalmia latifolia L.

Mountain laurel, Calico bush, Kalmia

Ericaceae (Heath Family)

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 Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Root Type: Tap
Leaf: Green
Flower:
Fruit: Brown
Size Class: 1-3 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Pink
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul

Distribution

USA: AL , CT , DC , DE , FL , GA , IN , KY , LA , MA , MD , ME , MS , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , SC , TN , VA , VT , 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 Conditions

Water Use: Low
Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
CaCO3 Tolerance: None
Soil Description: Cool, moist rocky or sandy soils.

Benefit

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.)


Conspicuous Flowers: yes
Attracts: Birds

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Kalmia latifolia is a larval host and/or nectar source for:
Laurel sphinx
(Sphinx kalmiae)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA

Propagation

Seed Collection: Seeds are tiny and mature late.
Seed Treatment: Germination is enhanced by cold-moist stratification.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

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

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

National Wetland Indicator Status

Region:AGCPAKAWCBEMPGPHIMWNCNEWMVE
Status: FACU FACU FACU FACU
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 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:

Native Plant Center at Westchester Community College, The - Valhalla, NY
Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Crosby Arboretum - Picayune, MS
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
Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski

Search More Titles in Bibliography

From the Archive

Wildflower Newsletter 1988 VOL. 5, NO.2 - Researching Wildflower Seed Quality, Wildflower Center Receives $500 -000 Gift, ...
Wildflower Newsletter 1992 VOL. 9, NO.1 - Research Update, Creating Native Lawn with Sod, Director's Report, What Makes Pl...
Wildflower Newsletter 1992 VOL. 9, NO.2 - Native Landscaping City Restrictions and Homeowner Association, Director's Repor...
Wildflower Newsletter 1996 VOL. 13, NO.6 - Winter Wonderland, Origins of the Christmas Tree, Development Director\\\'s Repo...
Wildflower Newsletter 1998 VOL. 15, NO.5 - Native Shrubs Providing Landscape Heritage and Habitat, Executive Director\'s Re...

Additional resources

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

Metadata

Record Modified: 2013-09-08
Research By: TWC Staff

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