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Search for native plants by scientific name, common name or family. If you are not sure what you are looking for, try the Combination Search or our Recommended Species lists.

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Kalmia polifolia (Bog laurel)
Bransford, W.D. and Dolphia

Kalmia polifolia

Kalmia polifolia Wangenh.

Bog Laurel, Pale Laurel, Swamp Laurel

Ericaceae (Heath Family)

Synonym(s): Chamaedaphne glauca, Kalmia polifolia ssp. polifolia, Kalmia polifolia var. rosmarinifolia

USDA Symbol: kapo

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

Bog Laurel or Swamp Laurel is a low shrub, usually less than 3 ft. high. Erect branches have glossy, leathery, dark blue-green foliage. Small, bell-like, pink flowers cluster together in groups of two to five. The fruit is a woody capsule.


From the Image Gallery

3 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Breeding System: Flowers Bisexual
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 3 feet tall.
Leaf: Dark Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Pink
Bloom Time: May , Jun , Jul
Bloom Notes: Light pink to white.


USA: CT , MA , ME , MI , MN , MT , NH , NJ , NY , PA , RI , VT , WI
Canada: AB , BC , MB , NB , NL , NS , ON , PE , QC , SK
Native Distribution: Lab. to AK, s. to CT., n. prairie provinces, WA & w. U.S. mts.
Native Habitat: Cold bogs; cold, wet, mt. meadows

Growing Conditions

Water Use: Medium
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade , Shade
Soil Moisture: Wet
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
CaCO3 Tolerance: Medium
Soil Description: Wet, organic soils & peat.
Conditions Comments: Chlorosis is caused by iron deficiency on limy soils. Swamp laurel is shade and flood tolerant.


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


Description: Propagation is by seeds under a mist tent or by summer cuttings.
Seed Treatment: No pretreatment is necessary.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

Mr. Smarty Plants says

Alternatives to non-native heather (Calluna vulgaris)
April 27, 2007
I live in Vernon, BC, Canada. I plan to put a heather plant in my garden, but my space is limited. I know that it will grow approx. 2 ft. high and that it likes well drained and acidic soil, but how...
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 National Organizations Directory

According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE

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


Record Modified: 2023-02-15
Research By: TWC Staff

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