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Ledum groenlandicum (Bog labrador tea)
Bransford, W.D. and Dolphia

Ledum groenlandicum

Ledum groenlandicum Oeder

Bog Labrador Tea, Rusty Labrador Tea, Labrador Tea, Hudson's Bay Tea, Muskeg Tea

Ericaceae (Heath Family)

Synonym(s): Ledum palustre ssp. groenlandicum, Ledum palustre var. latifolium, Rhododendron groenlandicum

USDA Symbol: legr

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

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 5 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. In northern Canada, the plant is known as Hudsonís Bay Tea.


From the Image Gallery

5 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 5 feet tall.
Leaf: Gray-Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug


USA: AK , CT , ID , MA , ME , MI , MN , ND , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OR , PA , SD , VT , WA , WI
Canada: AB , BC , MB , NB , NL , NS , ON , PE , QC , SK
Native Distribution: Lab. to AK, s. to PA, n.e. OH, MI, n.e. MN, c. Sask. & n.w. OR
Native Habitat: Peat bogs; cold, damp woods; wet shores

Growing Conditions

Water 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.


Warning: 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
Attracts: Butterflies
Larval Host: Northern Blue butterfly (Lycaeides idas)

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Northern Blue
(Plebejus idas)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA


Description: 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 Treatment: No pretreatment is necessary.
Commercially Avail: 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.


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

Search More Titles in Bibliography

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


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

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