Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia)

Common names:
Give a thumbs up Mountain Laurel
Give a thumbs up Calico bush

Botanical names:
Kalmia latifolia Accepted
Kalmia myrtifolia Synonym

General Plant Information (Edit)
Plant Habit: Shrub
Tree
Life cycle: Perennial
Sun Requirements: Full Sun
Full Sun to Partial Shade
Partial or Dappled Shade
Partial Shade to Full Shade
Full Shade
Water Preferences: Mesic
Soil pH Preferences: Very strongly acid (4.5 – 5.0)
Strongly acid (5.1 – 5.5)
Moderately acid (5.6 – 6.0)
Slightly acid (6.1 – 6.5)
Minimum cold hardiness: Zone 4a -34.4 °C (-30 °F) to -31.7 °C (-25 °F)
Maximum recommended zone: Zone 9b
Plant Height: 5 to 15 feet (1.5-4.5m)
Plant Spread: 5 to 15 feet (1.5-4.5m)
Leaves: Evergreen
Broadleaf
Fruit: Dehiscent
Fruiting Time: Late summer or early fall
Fall
Late fall or early winter
Winter
Flowers: Showy
Blooms on old wood
Flower Color: Pink
Red
White
Bloom Size: 1"-2"
Flower Time: Spring
Uses: Will Naturalize
Wildlife Attractant: Bees
Toxicity: Other: All parts of plant are toxic.
Propagation: Other methods: Cuttings: Stem
Layering
Pollinators: Bumblebees
Bees
Miscellaneous: Monoecious

Image

Photo gallery:

Comments:
Posted by ILPARW on Jan 1, 2018 2:22 PM

The Common Mountainlaurel has a native range from southern Maine down to northwest Florida, most of Alabama, parts of Mississippi, much of Kentucky & Tennessee, and eastern & southern Ohio, in swamps, meadows, and upland woods in acid soils ranging from draining wet to dry. It is slow growing of about half to 1 foot/year. It has smooth, glossy, leathery leaves about 3 to 4 inches long, borne alternately or in whorls. It bears white to pink star-like or bell-shaped or bowl-shaped flowers in flat-topped large terminal clusters in June with a nice fragrant scent. It bears little dry, brown fruits of 5-valved capsules from September until March. It has a brown to red-brown scaly-furrowed bark much like Pieris. It has a dense, shallow, fibrous root system and is easy to transplant. It is sold many nurseries in the East and some in the Midwest. In landscapes it can do well if it is planted in a shrub border or bed with mulch around it and shelter from winds, heat, and drought. I've seen a good number do poorly and even die out in landscapes in its native range because of some bad factor. It can be temperamental.

[ Reply to this comment | Give a thumbs up ]

Posted by robertduval14 (Mason, New Hampshire - Zone 5b) on Apr 16, 2013 4:38 PM

Connecticut and Pennsylvania's state flower.

[ Reply to this comment | Give a thumbs up ]

Posted by mellielong (Lutz, Florida - Zone 9b) on Apr 10, 2015 6:00 PM

"How to Know the Wildflowers" (1922) by Mrs. William Starr Dana has a lot of interesting information about this plant. First, as to its name, Kalmia was named by Linnaeus after Peter Kalm, one of his pupils. Another name for the plant, Spoonwood, came from its use by the Indians for making eating utensils. It is said that the wood is of fine grain and takes a good polish. The name Calico Bush may have come from the markings of the corolla which might suggest the cheap cotton prints sold in stores.

The shrub was highly prized and carefully cultivated in England. According to the author, Barewood Gardens (then the home of the editor of the London Times) was celebrated for its specimens. The English papers would announce the flowering season and the estate would open for visitors to come view the flowers. The author apparently had trouble convincing the head gardener of the estate that in parts of America, "the waste hillsides were brilliant with its beauty every June."

The author also points out that this is not the laurel of the ancients which was a symbol of victory and fame, although its leaves are similar in appearance. The leaves of Kalmia latifolia were said to be poisonous and supposedly used by the Indians for suicidal purposes. There was also a popular belief that the flesh of a partridge that had fed upon its fruit would become poisonous.

[ Reply to this comment | Give a thumbs up ]

Discussion Threads about this plant
Thread Title Last Reply Replies
What is this shrub/tree? by ir0nma1den Sep 2, 2017 11:47 AM 3
Shrubs for shade by Freedombelle Sep 7, 2017 1:27 PM 23
Blooming in May.... by wcgypsy May 30, 2017 5:00 PM 56
Looking for Plant Suggestions: Asian Shade Garden by EvergreenMike Mar 4, 2017 11:20 AM 49
Plant Identification by Bob1441 Aug 7, 2016 4:13 PM 10
Mountain Laurel? by WhatISeebyDawne Jul 25, 2016 5:42 PM 3
Any idea what this plant is? by Cblue Jul 22, 2016 1:11 PM 4
A Shady Spot by Chillybean Aug 24, 2015 6:31 PM 17
unknown by jmorth Feb 5, 2014 9:35 AM 47
Kalmia latifolia by crittergarden Jun 22, 2012 2:42 PM 4

« Add a new plant to the database

« The Plants Database Front Page

Today's site banner is by Marilyn and is called "Salvia regla 'Royal'"