Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Northeast Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Kalmia angustifolia L.
- Family: Heath (Ericaceae)
- Flowering: May-August
- Field Marks: This slender shrub is distinguished by glandular-hairy flower stalks, flat
evergreen leaves, and flowers only about 1/2 inch across.
- Habitat: Pastures, barrens, dry or wet soil, swamps, fields.
- Habit: Slender shrub to 4 1/2 feet tall.
- Stems: Erect, slender; twigs terete, more or less smooth; buds very small; leaf scars with 1 bundle trace.
- Leaves: Opposite or sometimes whorled, evergreen but rather thin, oblong to elliptic-lanceolate, pointed to more or less rounded at the tip, tapering to the base, pale on the lower surface, minutely hairy on the lower surface, at least when young, up to 3 inches long, with a short stalk.
- Flowers: Usually borne in axillary clusters, each flower about 1/2 inch across, borne on a slightly glandular-hairy stalk.
- Sepals: 5, united to each other, green, persistent on the fruit.
- Petals: 5, united to each other, rose pink to purple.
- Stamens: 10, releasing the pollen at maturity when barely touched.
- Pistils: Ovary superior, smooth; style 1, up to 1/3 inch long.
- Fruits: Capsules more or less spherical but depressed at the top, 1/6-1/4 inch in diameter, with many minute seeds.
- Notes: Two varieties of this species occur throughout its range. The southern variety, carolina, is usually taller and permanently velvety-hairy on the leaf undersurfaces. Both varieties contain a compound called andromedotoxin which is toxic to livestock and wildlife.
Previous Species -- Black Walnut (Juglans nigra)
Return to Species List -- Group 5
Next Species -- Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia)