Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Northeast Wetland Flora
Field Office Guide to Plant Species
Kalmia latifolia L.
- Family: Heath (Ericaceae)
- Flowering: May-July
- Field Marks: The distinguishing features of this small tree are the pink flowers 1/2-1 inch
across, the sticky sepals, and the flat evergreen leaves. In winter, the terminal buds are flat.
- Habitat: Woods, clearings, swamps.
- Habit: Shrub or small tree to 30 feet tall.
- Stems: Twigs sometimes angular, usually smooth; buds very small; leaf scars with 1 bundle trace.
- Leaves: Alternate but often crowded, evergreen, thick, broadly elliptic, pointed at the tip, tapering to the base, yellow-green on the lower surface, usually smooth, at least at maturity, up to 3 1/2 inches long; stalks up to nearly 1 inch long.
- Flowers: Several in terminal clusters, each flower 1/2-1 inch across, borne on glandular-sticky stalks.
- Sepals: 5, united to each other, green, sticky, persistent on the fruit.
- Petals: 5, united to each other, pink or white, often with purple spots.
- Stamens: 10, the anthers within pockets on the petals and releasing the pollen at maturity when barely touched.
- Pistils: Ovary superior, smooth; style 1, up to nearly 1 inch long.
- Fruits: Capsules spherical but depressed at the top, 1/4-1/3 inch in diameter, with many minute seeds.
- Notes: Because of the attractive nature of mountain laurel, it is often grown as an ornamental. This species contains the toxic compound andromedotoxin which can kill livestock and wildlife if eaten.
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