Thursday, June 12, 2008

Spring Flora- Mountain Laurel

We are now transitioning from spring to summer flora. This is Kalmia, commonly called "Mountain Laural". Other names include: Ivybush, Calico Bush, Spoonwood and Sheep Laurel. All parts of the plant are toxic. It is generally a shrub or small tree and occasionally reaches 10' in height. Often grows in dense thickets in poor, rocky soil and usually blooms in late May thru June. Wilderness battlefield is full of the stuff which is pretty spectacular to see.

Belongs to the family Ericaceae (if you care) which includes Blueberries, Cranberries, Azaleas and Rhododendrons, native to the eastern USA, from southern Maine to northern Florida, and west to Indiana and Louisiana. All plant family names end in "aceae" (if you care). I know memorizing them sure made my life miserable in plant taxonomy.

And finally (again if you care, I sure don't) The plant was first recorded in America in 1624. It was named for Pehr Kalm, who sent samples to England in the 18th century.

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