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Kalmia microphylla (Alpine laurel)
Cressler, Alan

Kalmia microphylla

Kalmia microphylla (Hook.) A. Heller

Alpine Laurel

Ericaceae (Heath Family)

Synonym(s): Kalmia microphylla ssp. occidentalis, Kalmia microphylla var. occidentalis, Kalmia occidentalis, Kalmia polifolia ssp. microphylla, Kalmia polifolia ssp. occidentalis, Kalmia polifolia var. microphylla


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

A low matted plant with several deep rose-purple, bowl-shaped flowers facing upward on slender stalks growing near tops of leafy stems.

This species is sometimes called K. polifolia ssp. microphylla. Its close relative, the lower-elevation Bog Laurel (K. polifolia), is usually 8-20 inches (20-50 cm) high and has leaves 3/4-1 1/2 inches (2-4 cm) long with edges tightly rolled under. The smaller Western Swamp Laurel (K. occidentalis), found from the lowlands of Alaska south to Oregon, has flowers 1/2-3/4 of an inch (1.5-2 cm) wide.


From the Image Gallery

2 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Subshrub
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Breeding System: Flowers Bisexual
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Spreading to erect, up to about 30 inches tall.
Leaf: Dark Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Pink , Purple
Bloom Time: Apr , May , Jun
Bloom Notes: Usually rose-purple, rarely white.


USA: AK , CA , CO , ID , MT , NV , OR , UT , WA , WY
Canada: AB , BC , ON
Native Distribution: Alaska south to southern California and central Colorado.
Native Habitat: Bogs and wet mountain meadows.

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun
Soil Moisture: Wet
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium


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

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

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.

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2023-04-03
Research By: TWC Staff

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