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Kalmia latifolia - L.

Common Name Mountain Laurel, Calico Bush, Ivy
Family Ericaceae
USDA hardiness 4-8
Known Hazards The foliage is poisonous to animals[21, 65, 76]. The whole plant is highly toxic[222]. Cases of poisoning have occurred when livestock or game birds have been eaten after they have ingested this plant[238].
Habitats Rich rocky, or dry gravelly woods in the shade of deciduous trees, and swamps in acid soils[43]. Prefers sandy or rocky soils[235].
Range Eastern N. America - New England to New York south to W. Florida.
Edibility Rating    (0 of 5)
Other Uses    (0 of 5)
Weed Potential No
Medicinal Rating    (2 of 5)
Care
Fully Hardy Moist Soil Semi-shade Full sun
Kalmia latifolia Mountain Laurel, Calico Bush, Ivy


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Kalmia latifolia Mountain Laurel, Calico Bush, Ivy

 

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Summary

Bloom Color: Pink, Red, White. Main Bloom Time: Early spring, Late spring, Mid spring. Form: Oval.


Physical Characteristics

 icon of manicon of shrub
Kalmia latifolia is an evergreen Shrub growing to 3 m (9ft) by 3 m (9ft) at a slow rate.
It is hardy to zone (UK) 4. It is in leaf all year, in flower from May to June, and the seeds ripen in September. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees.
Suitable for: light (sandy), medium (loamy) and heavy (clay) soils and prefers well-drained soil. Suitable pH: acid soils and can grow in very acid soils.
It can grow in semi-shade (light woodland) or no shade. It prefers moist soil.

Synonyms

K. lucida.

Habitats

Woodland Garden Dappled Shade; Shady Edge; Hedge;

Edible Uses

None known

Medicinal Uses



Plants For A Future can not take any responsibility for any adverse effects from the use of plants. Always seek advice from a professional before using a plant medicinally.

Analgesic;  Antifungal;  Antipsoriatic;  Antiviral;  Astringent;  Narcotic;  Salve;  Sedative;  
Skin.

Mountain laurel is a very poisonous narcotic plant the leaves of which were at one time used by some native North American Indian tribes in order to commit suicide[4]. Because of its toxicity, it is a remedy that is seldom used in modern herbalism[238], but the leaves have been used externally in herbal medicine and are a good remedy for many skin diseases and inflammation[4]. The leaves are analgesic, astringent, disinfectant, narcotic, salve and sedative[257]. An infusion of the leaves is used as a disinfectant wash and liniment to treat pain, scratches, rheumatism, inflammations and to get rid of body parasites[257]. Used internally, the leaves have a splendid effect in the treatment of active haemorrhages, diarrhoea and flux[4, 21, 61]. They are also used in the treatment of syphilis, inflammatory fevers, neuralgia, paralytic conditions, tinnitus and angina[238]. The leaves should be used with great caution however, and only under the guidance of a qualified practitioner[238]. Excess doses cause vertigo, headache, loss of sight, salivation, thirst, nausea, palpitations, slow pulse and difficulty in breathing[238]. See also the notes above on toxicity. Antifungal [303].

Other Uses

Dye;  Hedge;  Hedge;  Wood.

A yellow-tan dye is obtained from the leaves[106]. The plant can be grown as an informal hedge[200]. Wood - heavy, hard, strong but rather brittle. It weighs 44lb per cubic foot and is used for making small implements, tool handles etc[21, 46, 61, 82, 235]. The roots are used to make spoons etc, these are fashioned when the wood is green and soft, when dry they become very hard and smooth[207]. The wood is a good fuel[46, 61].

Cultivation details

Landscape Uses:Border, Foundation, Rock garden, Specimen. Requires an acid humus-rich soil, succeeding in part shade[182] or in full sun in cooler areas. Prefers almost full sun[11]. Dislikes dry soils[182], requiring cool, permanently moist conditions at the roots[21]. Succeeds in open woodland or along the woodland edge[200]. Plants are very cold-hardy, tolerating temperatures down to about -30°c[184]. A very ornamental plant[11], there are many named varieties[182]. This species is not very easy to grow well in Britain, it probably prefers a more continental climate[11]. This species is the state flower of Connecticut[238]. Slow to rejuvenate if the plant is cut back[200]. Special Features: Attracts birds, North American native, All or parts of this plant are poisonous, Blooms are very showy.

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Propagation

Seed - surface sow in late winter in a cool greenhouse in light shade[78, 113]. Prick out the young seedlings into individual pots as soon as they are large enough to handle. The seedlings are rather sensitive to damping off, so water them with care, keep them well-ventilated and perhaps apply a fungicide such as garlic as a preventative. Grow the young plants on in light shade and overwinter them in the greenhouse for their first winter[78]. Plant them out into their permanent positions in early summer. The seed is dust-like and remains viable for many years[113]. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, August in a frame. Very poor results unless the cuttings are taken from very young plants[11, 78]. Layering in August/September. Takes 18 months[78]. The plants can also be dug up and replanted about 30cm deeper in the soil to cover up some of the branches. The plant can then be dug up about 12 months later when the branches will have formed roots and can be separated to make new plants[200].

Other Names

If available other names are mentioned here

Found In

Countries where the plant has been found are listed here if the information is available

Weed Potential

Right plant wrong place. We are currently updating this section. Please note that a plant may be invasive in one area but may not in your area so it’s worth checking.

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants Status :

Related Plants
Latin NameCommon NameEdibility RatingMedicinal Rating
Kalmia angustifoliaSheep Laurel02
Kalmia polifoliaSwamp Laurel, Bog laurel02

 

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Author

L.

Botanical References

1143200

Links / References

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Readers comment

Dennis   Tue Aug 22 2006

Very informative site! Has there ever been any testing on the decay resistence or durability of Kalmia latifolia?

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