Types of mountain laurel

Flower Friday: Mountain laurel

Mountain laurel typically blooms in spring and occurs naturally in slope forests, bluffs and along creeks, seep streams and swamp edges. It attracts bees and provides cover for birds and small mammals.

The genus name Kalmia was named by Carl Linnaeus for his student, Peter Kalm, an 18th century botanist who visited the United States.

Mountain laurel is a state-listed threatened species in Florida.

Family: Ericaceae (Heath or heather family)
Native range: Panhandle west of Jefferson County and Suwannee County
To see where natural populations of mountain laurel have been vouchered, visit www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu.
Hardiness: 8a-9a
Soil: Moist to moderately dry, acidic soils
Exposure: Partial to full shade
Growth habit: 10’+ tall, 5+’ wide
Garden tips: Mountain laurel makes a nice specimen tree. It can also be used as a buffer or background screen as it cans be thicket-forming.

Mountain laurel plants are often available from nurseries that specialize in Florida native plants. Visit www.plantrealflorida.org to find a nursery in your area.

Mountain Laurel Growing: Care Of Mountain Laurel In The Landscape

Grown for its showy late spring and summer flowers and attractive, evergreen foliage, mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia, USDA zones 5 through 9) is a colorful asset to borders and foundation plantings, and it looks fantastic in mass plantings. It’s sometimes called a calico bush because the pink or white flowers usually have dark pink or maroon markings. Native to the Eastern U.S., you can often find mountain laurel growing wild among native azaleas and rhododendrons.

Mountain Laurel Information

You’ll find many lovely cultivars of mountain laurel to choose from, thanks in large part to Dr. Richard A. Jaynes of Hamden, Connecticut. Here are just a few of his enticing creations:

  • ‘Elf’ is a dwarf that grows 3 feet (1 m.) tall with pale pink or white blossoms.
  • ‘Heart of Fire’ has deep red buds that open to pink flowers with dark pink edges on a five-foot (1.5 m.) shrub.
  • ‘Raspberry Glow’ grows up to six feet (1.8 m.) tall. The burgundy buds open to raspberry-pink flowers that keep their color when grown in shade.
  • ‘Carol’ forms a low, rounded mound of dark green foliage. The buds are red and the flowers are bright white.
  • ‘Snowdrift’ has white blooms with a dab of red in the center. It grows about 4 feet (1.2 m.) tall.

How to Grow a Mountain Laurel

Mountain laurel looks best when grown in dappled sunlight, but it also grows well in full sun or partial shade. Avoid locations with full sun in combination with reflected light from heat-reflecting southern or southwestern walls. Partial shade is best in hot, southern climates. In deep shade the flowers lose their bright colors and may develop leaf spot.

If azaleas and rhododendrons grow well in the area, mountain laurel will thrive. The shrubs need moist but well-drained acidic soil. They won’t grow well in clay soil. It’s important not to give the shrubs too much fertilizer, so don’t plant them in or near lawns fed with high-nitrogen products.

Care of Mountain Laurel

Amend the soil with compost when planting mountain laurels. If you have several shrubs, amend the entire bed. Add the compost to the fill dirt if you are only planting one or two shrubs. When adding organic matter to the fill dirt, dig the hole as deep as the root ball and three times as wide so the shrub will have plenty of organic soil where it can spread its roots.

Mountain laurel has a shallow root system and needs watering more often than most shrubs. New plantings need 2 inches (5 cm.) of water each week for the first season. The average sprinkler system delivers about an inch (2.5 cm.) of water per hour, so you’ll need to run the system two hours. Use organic mulch, such as pine needles or shredded bark, to help the soil hold moisture between waterings.

These shrubs don’t need a lot of fertilizer, and may bloom poorly if you apply too much. Use a fertilizer designed for acid-loving plants mixed at one-quarter strength once a year in spring. You can also add a thin layer of compost to the soil for additional nutrients and to add to the organic matter of the soil.

Mountain laurel begins forming the buds for next year’s flowers soon after the flowers fade. Prune the shrub right after flowering so that you don’t remove the new buds. Cut off faded flowers promptly so the shrub can focus its energy on growth rather than seed development.

The mountain laurel in bloom

Constructed like needlework

Tiny half-pulled stitches piercing

Flushed and striped petals…

-Adrienne Rich

Mountain Laurel, Kalmia latifolia has long been regarded as one of our finest, flowering, native shrubs. This is a broad-leaf evergreen par excellence. In June, its ribbed flower buds are a deep-pink, opening to pale pink, or white, cup-shaped flowers. Most often, these flowers are at the terminal end of branches, creating an effusive floral display. Take a close look at these flowers, which have an artful, pollinating mechanism. The five fused petals, which Rich alludes to as being stitched, surround ten stamens, the male reproductive parts. At the end of each stamen are the tiny dark-colored anthers, possessing the pollen. Notice how the petals are indented, holding the anthers, with the stamens bent back under tension. When a bee, or other insect, lands, the stamen is catapulted, with a mousetrap-like response, increasing the successful rate of pollen covered bees/insects, hence greater cross pollination. Nature’s engineering at work, right before your eyes.

Kalmia is a relatively small genus, with seven to ten species, depending upon taxonomic interpretation. But the very name is connected to notable botanical history. Peter Kalm (1715-1779), Finnish botanist, came to North America, in 1748, to collect known and unknown plants. Kalm was a former student of Carl Linnaeus (1707-1778), Swedish botanist, and the father of modern taxonomy.

Kalm spent three years collecting in North America, returning a prized trove of plants to Linnaeus in 1751. A grateful Linnaeus, named the genus of this outstanding plant in his honor. Kalm then settled into Swedish academic life, but is also remembered today for Peter Kalm’s Travels in North America an eighteenth-century natural history travelogue. Kalm, in this recount, under November 20, 1748 states, “The spoon tree, which never grows to a great height, was seen today in several places. The Swedes here , have named it thus, because the Indians used to make their spoons and trowels of its wood…It succeeds best on the side of hills, especially on the north side… it frequently stands among beech trees. They have the quality of preserving their fine green leaves throughout the winter, so that when all other trees have lost their ornamentals, and stand quite naked, these adorn the woods with their fine foliage… About the month of May they begin to flower in these parts , and their beauty rivals that of most of the known trees in nature.”

Jacob Bigelow’s Kalmia latifolia (Mountain Laurel) from American Medical Botany circa 1817

Prolific horticultural writer, and expert plantsman, Ernest Henry Wilson (1876-1930), adds this praise, “…but the typical Mountain Laurel overshadows all, dominates the scene, defies descriptive effort, lays a hush on the tongue and thrills the soul with the majesty of its beauty.” Wilson further extols Kalmia’s winter prowess, while comparing it to rhododendron, “…the evergreen Rhododendrons hang down their leaves and curl them to the utmost. In marked contrast is the Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia) holding its leaves outspread as in summertime, and glorying in the fact that it is New England’s best and worthiest broadleaf evergreen.”

Visionary founder of Mount Auburn, Jacob Bigelow (1787- 1879), physician, and botanist, also praised the beauty of Mountain Laurel, Kalmia latifolia. In his American Medical Botany, 1817-1820, one of America’s first botanical books with colored illustrations, Bigelow wrote, “As an ornamental shrub, this species stands in the highest rank, and by the frequency of its growth and the brilliancy of its flowers, it contributes in a great degree to the eloquence of the natural scenery in those mountains and woods, which it inhabits.” For these three volumes, Bigelow also drew the illustrations, and devised a method of inking directly the printing plate, called color aqua-tinting, that eliminated the then usual need for hand coloring, of finished pages.

This month, with over one-hundred Mountain Laurels throughout our landscape, you will have little trouble seeking out these beautiful (and “naturally engineered”) flowers, for a close-up view, and join the legacy of plant aficionados that have marveled at their elegance, and charm.

Kalmia latifolia

  • Attributes: Genus: Kalmia Species: latifolia Family: Ericaceae Life Cycle: Woody Country Or Region Of Origin: Eastern U.S.A Distribution: open rocky or sandy woods, cool meadows, balds, mountain slopes Fire Risk Rating: high flammability Wildlife Value: It provides winter cover. Hummingbirds and butterflies are attracted to the flowers. Although the foilage is toxic to domestic livestock, white-tailed deer browse the leaves and twigs during the winter and early spring. Play Value: Wildlife Food Source Particularly Resistant To (Insects/Diseases/Other Problems): Highly resistant to damage from deer. Dimensions: Height: 6 ft. 0 in. – 10 ft. 0 in. Width: 5 ft. 0 in. – 15 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits: Plant Type: Native Plant Poisonous Shrub Leaf Characteristics: Broadleaf Evergreen Habit/Form: Dense Multi-stemmed Open Rounded Texture: Medium
  • Cultural Conditions: Light: Dappled Sunlight (Shade through upper canopy all day) Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day) Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours) Soil Texture: High Organic Matter Loam (Silt) Sand Shallow Rocky Soil pH: Acid (<6.0) Soil Drainage: Good Drainage Moist Occasionally Dry Available Space To Plant: 6-feet-12 feet 12-24 feet NC Region: Coastal Mountains Piedmont Usda Plant Hardiness Zone: 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b, 9a, 9b
  • Fruit: Fruit Color: Brown/Copper Display/Harvest Time: Fall Fruit Type: Capsule Fruit Length: < 1 inch Fruit Width: < 1 inch Fruit Description: Plant produces 5-valved, dihiscent capsules (3/16″) that are non-showy and brown in color that persist into winter.
  • Flowers: Flower Color: Pink Purple/Lavender White Flower Inflorescence: Corymb Flower Value To Gardener: Showy Flower Bloom Time: Spring Summer Flower Shape: Saucer Flower Petals: 4-5 petals/rays Flower Size: < 1 inch Flower Description: Flowers appear on the Mountain laurel in terminal clusters (corymbs 4″ to 6” in diameter), typically covering the shrub in late May-June for several weeks with an often exceptional bloom. Each flower (to 1” across) is cup-shaped with five sides and ranges in color from rose to white with purple markings inside of the corolla. There are 5 calyx lobes that are corolla campanulate. 5 lobes are pleated with 10 anthers that emerge at bloom (stamens included) but are at first tucked in small pockets.
  • Leaves: Leaf Characteristics: Broadleaf Evergreen Leaf Color: Green Leaf Feel: Glossy Leathery Leaf Value To Gardener: Long-lasting Showy Leaf Type: Simple Leaf Arrangement: Alternate Opposite Whorled Leaf Shape: Elliptical Lanceolate Oblanceolate Hairs Present: No Leaf Length: 3-6 inches Leaf Width: < 1 inch Leaf Description: The Mountain laurel has elliptic to lanceolate or oblanceolate, simple, alternate, acute to short acuminate, cuneate, coriacious, entire, leathery, and congested glossy evergreen leaves (2″ to 5” long) which are dark green above and yellow-green beneath and reminiscent to the leaves of rhododendrons. The leaves are occasionally opposite or whorled. New growth is yellow-green, yellows with age and falls off.
  • Bark: Bark Description: The bark is thin, smooth and dark red-brown in color in young trees. The barks shreds and splits as the tree ages. The trunk is contorted with cinnamon bark.
  • Stem: Stem Color: Brown/Copper Green Red/Burgundy Stem Is Aromatic: No Stem Description: Stems are sympodial and initially bronze and sticky. As they mature, they turn turn red green or brown and become crooked and gnarly. Epidermis and gray-brown bark crack to reveal lighter colors in older stems. Pith is solid and light green.
  • Landscape: Landscape Location: Coastal Meadow Naturalized Area Recreational Play Area Woodland Landscape Theme: Butterfly Garden Children’s Garden Native Garden Pollinator Garden Design Feature: Accent Flowering Tree Shade Tree Attracts: Butterflies Hummingbirds Resistance To Challenges: Deer Problems: Poisonous to Humans
  • Poisonous to Humans: Poison Severity: High Poison Symptoms: Salivation, watering of eyes and nose, slow pulse, nausea, vomiting, sweating, abdominal pain, headache, tingling of skin, lack of coordination, convulsions, paralysis Poison Toxic Principle: Andromedotoxin, a resinoid; arbutin, a glycoside Causes Contact Dermatitis: No Poison Part: Bark Flowers Fruits Leaves Roots Seeds Stems


Zone 1 H(1-3′) W(1-3′)

Sheep Laurel (Lambkill)
Kalmia angustifolia
This plant is poisonous to livestock, hence the name lambkill. Does well in sandy or infertile soil, bogs, old fields. A nice pink 1/2 inch flower in June to July.


Zone 4 H(6′) W(6′)
3 gal.

Bullseye Mountain Laurel
Kalmia latifolia ‘Bullseye’
Flowers have broad bands of purple with a white center and edge. Bronzy red new growth. Blooms late spring to early summer.

Zone 5 H(4′) W(4′)
2 gal.
3 gal.
5 gal.

Carousel Mountain Laurel
Kalmia latifolia ‘Carousel’
Lavender buds open to reveal an intricate cinnamon-purplish band around the edge of the white flower in mid spring. Broad colorful new foliage becomes a glossy dark green in summer. Attracts birds.


Zone 4 H(4′) W(4′)
2 gal.
3 gal.

Elf Mountain Laurel
Kalmia latifolia ‘Elf’
Dwarf type, small foliage. Pale pink flowers. Blooms in late spring, early summer.


Zone 5 H(4′) W(4′)
2 gal.
3 gal.

Keepsake Mountain Laurel
Kalmia latifolia ‘Keepsake’
Blooms in late Spring-Summer. Deep red buds open to bright pink flowers with a white edge. Dark green glossy foliage.


Zone 4 H(4′) W(4′)
2 gal.
3 gal.
5 gal.

Little Linda Mountain Laurel
Kalmia latifolia ‘Little Linda’
Large broad leaf evergreen for shady areas. Flowers are magnificent. Dark pink buds open to light pink flowers.


Zone 5 H(3′) W(3′)
1 gal.
2 gal.
3 gal.
5 gal.

Minuet Mountain Laurel
Kalmia latifolia ‘Minuet’
Pink buds open to white flowers with a striking maroon-red margin around the inside edge.


Zone 4 H(7′) W(7′)
3 gal.

Nipmuck Mountain Laurel
Kalmia latifolia ‘Nipmuck’
Red buds open to light pink flowers.

Zone 4 H(8-10′) W(8-10′)
1 gal.
2 gal.
3 gal.

Pink Charm Mountain Laurel
Kalmia latifolia ‘Pink Charm
‘Pink Charm’ tolerates shallower, drier soils once established allowing it to compete with water grabbing trees while looking great with its shiny deep green foliage. Dense, rounded form, and superb spring flower show that starts deep pink in bud and opens to a pleasing yet strong pink color in late May and early June. ‘Pink Charm’ is a great cover source for woodland birds and its flowers provide a wealth of nectar for native bees.

Zone 4 H(3-4′) W(3-4′)
2 gal.
3 gal.
5 gal.

Sarah Mountain Laurel
Kalmia latifolia ‘Sarah’
Brilliant red buds and maturing to pinkish-red with distinct markings in summer. New stems and leaves are bright maroon.

Zone 4 H(4-5′) W(4-5′)

2 gal.

3 gal.

Snowdrift Mountain Laurel
Kalmia latifolia ‘Snowdrift’
White buds open to a near white flower with slight reddish markings on the inside. Compact, dense habit. The best white cultivar available.

Zone 5 H(3′) W(3′)
2 gal.
3 gal.

Tiddlywinks Mountain Laurel
Kalmia latifolia ‘Tiddlywinks’
This bushy eastern native shrub, which is grown for its showy flowers, is best suited in an informal border or woodland setting. Pink cup-shaped flowers are held in large corymbs 3 to 4 inches across open from May to June. Loves moist, acid soil flower is a deeper pink with green stems.

Zone 4 H(2-3′) W(3-4′)
2 gal.
3 gal.

5 gal.

Tinkerbell Mountain Laurel
Kalmia latifolia ‘Tinkerbell’
This bushy eastern native shrub, which is grown for its showy flowers, is best suited in an informal border or woodland setting. Pink cup-shaped flowers are held in large corymbs 3 to 4 inches across open from May to June. Loves moist, acid soil flower is a deeper pink with green stems.

*ALL PLANT MATERIAL IS SUBJECT TO AVAILABILITY*

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Mountain laurel

Mountain Laurel

A showy shrub native to eastern North America, mountain laurel is closely related to azaleas and rhododendrons. It grows in a large, rounded mound and has dark green foliage that remains on the plant all year. In late spring, it bears clusters of flowers in white, pink, and red.

Like most rhododendrons and azaleas, mountain laurel needs soil with an acidic pH. It prefers ground that’s moist, well-drained, and high in organic matter, so amend average soil with compost or peat moss before planting. Mountain laurel tolerates full sun in moist soil, though it does better in partial shade if the soil tends to get dry.

All parts of mountain laurels are poisonous.

genus name
  • Kalmia
light
  • Part Sun,
  • Sun
plant type
  • Shrub
height
  • 8 to 20 feet
width
  • To 12 feet wide
flower color
  • Red,
  • White,
  • Pink
season features
  • Spring Bloom
problem solvers
  • Deer Resistant
special features
  • Good for Containers
zones
  • 5,
  • 6,
  • 7,
  • 8,
  • 9
propagation
  • Seed,
  • Grafting,
  • Layering

More varieties for Mountain laurel

Image zoom

‘Elf’ mountain laurel

Kalmia latifolia ‘Elf’ was the first dwarf mountain laurel introduced. It has large pink buds that open to nearly white flowers. It grows 3 feet tall and 4 feet wide. Zones 5-9

Image zoom

‘Minuet’ mountain laurel

Kalmia latifolia ‘Minuet’ is an outstanding dwarf selection that bears light pink buds and pink flowers with a bold red band. It grows 3 feet tall and wide. Zones 5-9

Image zoom

‘Olympic Fire’ mountain laurel

Kalmia latifolia ‘Olympic Fire’ shows off red-pink buds that open to dark pink flowers. It grows 10 feet tall and wide. Zones 5-9

Image zoom

‘Peppermint’ mountain laurel

Kalmia latifolia ‘Peppermint’ offers unique white flowers with dark red streaks running to the edges. It grows 10 feet tall and wide. Zones 5-9

Image zoom

‘Snowdrift’ mountain laurel

Kalmia latifolia ‘Snowdrift’ is considered one of the best pure-white selections. It has rich, dark green foliage that’s very shiny. It grows 10 feet tall and wide. Zones 5-9

Image zoom

‘Tinkerbell’ mountain laurel

Kalmia latifolia ‘Tinkerbell’ is a dwarf selection that bears deep pink buds that open to reveal rich pink flowers. It grows 3 feet tall and wide. Zones 5-9

Outstanding Qualities

Kalmia latifolia ‘Elf’ is a semi-dwarf mountain laurel with compact, dense growth and shiny dark green foliage. Clusters of pale-pink buds develop in late spring, gradually enlarging and opening to almost pure white flowers. The smaller foliage and tighter growth give a more uniform look in the garden than many other cultivars of mountain laurel making it a good plant for groupings or for mixing with dwarf rhododendrons and evergreen azaleas. The tight growth habit of Pieris japonica ‘Prelude’ or Cotoneaster adpressus ‘Little Gem’ make tidy-looking companions. The furry-white indumented new growth of Rhododendron ‘Ken Janeck’ looks spectacular with the pale pink and white blooms of Kalmia latifolia ‘Elf’.

Quick Facts

Plant Type: shrub

Foliage Type: evergreen

Plant Height: 3 ft. 0 in. (0.91 meters)

Plant Width/Spread: 3 ft. 0 in. (0.91 meters)

Plant Height-Mature: 0 ft. 0 in. (0.00 meters)

Plant Width-Mature: 0 ft. 0 in. (0.00 meters)

Hardiness: USDA Zones 5 to 9

Flower Color: pink

Sun/Light Exposure: full sun to light or open shade

Water Requirements: regular watering

Resistant to: deer

Colors & Combos

Great Color Contrasts: silver, gold, chartreuse

Great Color Partners: dark green, purple, pink

Where to See Mountain Laurel in the Laurel Highlands

Mountain-laurel is in bloom in the Laurel Highlands! The shrub keeps its foliage year-round, but keep an eye out in May and June for umbrella-like flowers that range in color from white to pink, with unique purple markings. Not only is mountain-laurel absolutely beautiful, it is Pennsylvania’s state flower and can be found all over the Laurel Highlands. Want to see the spring flowers yourself? Lucky for you, they can be found right in your backyard!

Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail/Laurel Ridge State Park

While a backpacker or day-hiker can find many opportunities to gaze at the glory of this unique and beautiful plant, one of the best spots to view mountain-laurel on the entire Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail is via the Route 30 trailhead just outside of Ligonier. If you park at the trailhead parking lot, you’ll see the lovely flora right away. You can hike north or south to see blooms lining the trails at a few different points.

The Mountain Laurel, Pennsylvania’s state flower, is blooming! This is not a drill! There are so many places I want to see while they’re blooming, wish me luck! #mountainlaurel #summer #wildflowers #flowers #flower #laurelhighlands #ohiopyle #pennsylvania #pastateparks #nature #conservepa #pennsylvaniabeautiful #stateparks

A post shared by Rose (@rose_adventures) on Jun 3, 2018 at 5:47am PDT

Forbes State Forest and Laurel Mountain State Park

Close by the Route 30 trailhead is Forbes State Forest/Laurel Mountain. This area is renowned for hiking, mountain biking and when conditions provide, excellent cross-country skiing. But in June, it is where hikers and bikers can take in the beautiful sights and sounds of a high elevation forest. Explore the Rocky Gap, Wolf Rocks and Silvermine Trails for the best chances to see mountain-laurel in bloom! Bonus points: visit nearby Spruce Flats Bog and Linn Run State Park for even more unique and gorgeous scenery!

Ohiopyle State Park

A local gem and beautiful trail offering a nice loop hike or mountain bike ride past large rock outcroppings, beautiful overlooks and remnants of homesteads. Find the best display of mountain-laurel from the top of the loop from Fire Tower Road, or via a steep climb from the McCune Trailhead.

Quebec Run in Forbes State Forest

A great place to get off the beaten path, Quebec Run offers a variety of trails known for hiking, mountain biking and trail running. These trails are challenging and this is an area where you are less likely to run into other trail users. Enjoy the lush rhododendron and peaks of mountain-laurel as you weave through this rugged landscape.

Fallingwater

Check two things off of your bucket list by viewing mountain-laurel at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Fallingwater! It’s only perfect that this beautiful flower can be found in the surrounding landscape of the architectural masterpiece. As if Fallingwater wasn’t picturesque enough!

Hit the trail to experience the wicked beauty of mountain laurel

Mountain laurel is in bloom across the eastern United States.
Bob Frye/Everybody Adventures

Maybe you’ve had one of those relationships, or even just one of those dates.

You know, toxic.

The person across the dinner table is sure enough pretty or handsome. They’re alluring, inviting and even smell good, too.

But beneath it all they’re pure poison.

So it is with mountain laurel.

It’s one of the most glorious wildflowers of summer, both for the timing of its blooms – they’re at or near peak right now across most of its range – and its hardscrabble, gritty will.

But it’s best to look rather than touch.

A shrub, mountain laurel stands five to 10 feet tall usually, though in southern climates it can hit 40. It’s got dark green, shiny, leathery leaves. They’re offset by clusters of delicate white and pink flowers.

You can find it in lots of places across the eastern United States. According to the U.S. Forest Service, it’s “common in the Appalachian Mountains, plateaus, piedmont, and coastal plains from southeast Maine to the Florida panhandle, west to Louisiana, and north through southern Indiana to southern Quebec.”

Two states, Pennsylvania and Connecticut, count it their official state flower. Many more market hiking trails that feature it, given its popularity with outdoor folks.

And with good reason.

When it gets especially abundant — think places like Kings Gap Environmental Education Center in Pennsylvania, or Great Smoky Mountains National Park in Tennessee and North Carolina, for example – its flowers paint entire landscapes.

It’s a beautiful sight of the season, one I never want to miss.

Mountain laurel flowers are delicately colored.
Bob Frye/Everybody Adventures

And that’s especially true when you consider where these plants not only endure, but thrive.

They’ll take the suburbs, if moved there. But typically, on its own, laurel clings to life in the margins, notably the thin soils common to mountains. Find a rocky ridge and there’s probably laurel on it.

That’s truer now than ever, too.

Mountain laurel has done exceedingly well over the last century, says the Forest Service. Three factors, among others, account for much of that.

The loss of the American chestnut tree to blight opened the forest canopy, as did oak deforestation caused by gypsy moths. Add to that fire suppression – a hallmark of forest management that’s slowly going away – and quick-growing mountain laurel spread across the landscape.

Whatever the case, there’s something really cool about it.

It just seems to like wilder places. To me, that’s always made it companion to adventure, whether hiking, backpacking or camping.

But just don’t mess with it.

It grows in dense patches, for starters. Its branches and roots twist and turn and bend and wander like the knuckly, gnarled, arthritic fingers of a hunchbacked witch in a children’s cartoon.

“That characteristic plus the shiny smooth appearance of large patches earned them the names ‘laurel hell’ and ‘laurel slick’ from early settlers,” says the Virginia Native Plant Society.

You don’t want to blaze a trail through the stuff, that’s for sure.

Then there’s its toxicity. From leaf to stem to branch, mountain laurel is poisonous in all its forms.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture says it can even be fatal to both humans and some animals.

The way it takes victims out isn’t overly pleasant either.

Consume it in high enough quantities and your lips, mouth and throat burn. Nausea and vomiting, drowsiness, convulsions, and increasingly paralysis follow. Then comes coma and death.

“Children have been poisoned by merely sucking on the flowers of this plant. Even honey made from mountain laurel pollen is toxic,” the Department of Agriculture adds.

So yeah, not exactly marriage material.

But that’s OK. Who goes to the woods to eat it anyway?

Mountain laurel — kalmia latifolia to the scientifically inclined — is plenty good just to admire.

And the time to do it is right now. The woods are alive with its color.

So lace up those hiking boots, strap on that pack, and wander among the mountain laurel, the lovely but deceptively wicked hallmark of Eastern forests.

Laurel Fields

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Clarion- Limestone High School

Clarion-Little Toby Rail Trail

Clarion-Little Toby Rail Trail, Ridgway PA

Clear Creek State Park

Climax Tunnel

CMF Club

Columbia Theatre

Community Education Center

Cook Forest

Cook Forest Fire Tower

Cook Forest Scenic Trailride, Dude Ranch, & Campground

Cook Forest State Campground

Cook Forest State Park

Cook Forest State Park – Shelter 2

Cook Forest State Park Ice Skating Pond

Cook Forest State Park Office

Cook Forest State Park Ridge Camp Park Amphitheater

Cook Trail – Henry’s Run

Cooksburg Cafe

Coolspring Community Center

Coolspring Power Museum

Coolspring Power Museum, 179 Coolspring Rd., Coolspring

Coolspring United Methodist Church

Coospring Presbyterian Church

Copper Fox Winery

Cornerstone Church of God

Corsica

Corsica Fire Hall

Corsice Fire Hall

Country Pride Restaurtant/TA Truck Stop

Country Squirrel

Country Squirrel Outfitters

Crawford Center

Crazy Horse Saloon

CU Movies on Main

Dan Smith’s Candies

DB’s Smokin’ BBQ

DeBence Antique Music World 1261 Liberty St., Franklin

DeBence Antique Music World 1261 Liberty Street Franklin PA 16323

Deer Creek Winery

Deer Meadow Campground

Dents Run View Area

Devil’s BBQ

Dirty Ehrma’s Cornerside Tavern

Divani Chocolatier

Donnell’s Gift Shop

Donnell” Gift Shop

Double Diamond Deer Ranch

Downtown Knox and surrounding area Knox PA 16232

Downtown Punxsutawney and Gobblers Knob (Woodland Avenue Extension)

Driftwood Borough Park

Driftwood Saloon & Grill

DuBois Harley- Davidson

Eagles Club

Eagles Club Punxsutawney

Eagles Nest

East Brady

East Brady Volunteer Fire Department

East Branch Dam

East Forest High School

Edgewood Hall

Eleanora

Elk Country Visitor Center

Elk County Catholic High School

Elk County Community Recycling Center

Elk County Council on the Arts

Elk County Fairgrounds

Elk County Historical Society

Elk County Riders On/Off Road Recreation Club

Elk County Streams

Elk Mountain at Knox Winery Outlet

Elk State Park

Emporium

Emporium Country Club

Emporium VFW

Emporium Vol. Fire Co. 419 North Broad Street Emporium PA 15834

Epicenter

Escape Room

EUM Church

Evergreen Cabins & Mercantile

F.L. Crooks & Co.

Farmer’s Inn

Farmington Volunteer Fire Department

Flying Dove Ranch

Flying W Ranch

Forest Count Historical Society

Forest County

Forest County Historical Society

Fox Township Fire Hall

Fox Township Rodeo

Fox Township Sportsman’s Club

Fox Township Volunteer Fire Company

Foxburg Festival

Foxburg Library

Foxburg Wine Cellars

Frank Varischetti Field

Fryburg

Fryburg Sportsmen’s Club

Fusion Cafe

Gallery at New Bethlehem Town Center

Gateway Lodge

George C. Brown Community Pool

Gobblers Knob Woodland Avenue Extension Punxsutawney

Gold Eagle Restaurant

Grace Evangelical Church

Green Lite

Green Valley Fall Fest

Groundhog Bowling Lanes

Grubers Farm

Gumtown Memorial Park

Gunner’s

Harry F. Kunselman Park

Haunted Barn

Hawthorn

Hawthorn Fire Hall

Hawthorn Rod & Gun Club

Hazen Flea Market

Heath Township Sportsman Club

Heritage House

High Rise Social Hall

Hominy Ridge Lodge and Cabins

Humminbird Speedway

Hummingbird Speedway

Hygrade Inn

Iron Mountain Grille

Jackson Theatre

JeeppInn

Jeff Tech

Jefferson County Courthouse

Jefferson County Fair Grounds

Jefferson County Fairgrounds

Jefferson County Fairgrounds 1514 Rt. 28N, Brookville

Jefferson County History Center

Jefferson County History Center 176 Main St., Brookville

Jefferson Manor

Jefferson Social Building

Johnsonburg Community Center

Johnsonburg Fire Hall

Johnsonburg High School

Kahle Lake

Kahle Lake Lakeview Drive Lamartine PA 16375

Kaulmont Park

Kellettville

Kellettville Sportsmans Club

Keystone Elk Country Alliance

Knox

Knox American Legion

Knox Volunteer Fire Dept

Knoxdale

KS Horse Sales

Laurel Fields Rd

Laurel Mill Ski Trail

Laurel Mountain Vineyard

Laurel Mountain Winery

Laurelbrooke Landing

Lazy River Canoe Rental

Lee Foster Memorial Run

Limestone Twp Station 580

Lincoln Hall

Lindemuth’s Country Store

LL Raceway

Log Cabin Inn Environmental Learning Classroom

Long Shot Ammo & Arms

Lucinda Train Station

MACA

MACA Building

MacBeth’s Cabins

Mahoning Valley Milling Co. Inc

Maple Shade Mansion

Mapleview Schoolhouse Market & Event Center

Marienstadt Public House

Marienville

Marienville Ranger District Office

Marienville Town Square

Market Street

Marlin Opera House

Marwick Boyd Little Theatre

May Hollow Sportsman’s Club

McKinley Ball Fields

Means Cork and Cap Hosted

Medix Run

Memorial Church of Our Father

Memorial Park

Microtel

Mill Creek Boat Launch

Minister Creek Campground

Moon-Lite Drive Inn

Moonlite Drive-In Theatre

Moose Lodge #101

Moose Lodge #366

Motion Control Building

Movies on Main

Mt. Zion Historical Park

Nelson’s Hardware

New Bethlehem

New Bethlehem Presbyterian Church

New Bethlehem VFW

Nomadic Trading

North Central PA Region Planning & Development Center

Northwest Bank

Oakland Church of God

Open House Shop

Opera House Cafe

PA National Guard Armory Field

Pale Whale Canoe Fleet

Park Inn by Radisson

Park Inn by Radisson 45 Holiday Inn Rd., Clarion

Parker’s Landing boat launch area, Parker, PA

Paul’s Pumpkin Patch

Pavilion #2 Tom’s Run

Penfield and Benezette

Pine Springs Pottery

Pinecrest Country Club

Piney Meadows Park

Plyler’s Family Restaurant

Porchvue Winery

Portersville Spring Gas-Up

Portersville Steam Show

Presbyterian Church Education Building

Punxsutawney

Punxsutawney Area Coal Memorial

Punxsutawney Area Historical & Genealogical Society

Punxsutawney Christian School

Punxsutawney Community Center

Punxsutawney Country Club

Punxsutawney High School

Punxsutawney Little League Fields

Punxsutawney Memorial Library

Punxsutawney Municipal Airport

Quiet Creek Herb Farm

R Bandana Winery

Race to the Face Starting/Ending Point

Ramada by Wyndham

Rathmel Run Hunting Preserve

Rebecca M Arthurs Memorial Library

Red Fern

Redbank Valley Community Center

Redbank Valley High School

Redbank Valley Library

Redbank Valley Municipal Park

Redbank Valley Park

Redbank Valley Trailhead

Reynlow Park

Reynoldsville

Reynoldsville Eagles Club

Rich Valley Wines

Ridge Camp Campground

Ridgway

Ridgway Carnival Grounds

Ridgway Elks Lodge #872

Ridgway Fire Dept Social Hall

Ridgway Rifle Club

Ridgway YMCA

Ridgway-Elk County Chamber of Commerce

Rimersburg

RiverStone Farms

RMS Parking Lot

Rolfe Beagle Club

Ross Run Creek

Route 66 Trail Head

RRR Roadhouse

Rustic Acres RV Resort & Campground

Sacred Heart Parish

Sandy Beach Park

Sawmill Center for the Arts

Scotch Hill Community Hall

Scripture Rocks Heritage Park

Sherman Memorial Lighthouse

Shop ‘n Save

Sigel Hotel

Sigel Sportsmen’s Club

Sinnemahoning

Sinnemahoning Sportsman Club

Sinnemahoning State Park

Sinnemahoning State Park Wild Life Center

Sinnemahoning Tavern

Sizerville State Park

Sizerville State Park 199 East Cowley Run Road, Emporium, Pennsylvania 15834

Sligo Rec Center

Sligo Sportsman & Archery Club

St Boniface School

St Charles Hall

St Cloud Hotel

St Cloud Parking

St John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church

St Leo Magnus Church

St Marys Church Parish Center

St Marys Municipal Airport

St Marys PA

St Marys Walmart

St Michaels Parish

St. Joseph’s Church

St. Mary’s Airport

St. Mary’s Chamber

St. Mary’s Fireworks

St. Mary’s High School

St. Marys Area High School

St. Marys Church

St. Marys Community Pool

St. Marys Sportsman Club

St. Marys Sportsmen’s Club 1339 Glen Hazel Rd., St. Marys

Start across from Emporium Country Club Rt. 120, Emporium. Finish line in Driftwood.

Starts at Ridgway Courthouse, Main Street, Ridgway, PA 15853

Statewide Pennsylvania

Stello Foods Inc Outlet Store

Stewart Bovard Memorial Library

Stone Crest Cabins

Straub Brewery

Straub Brewery Visitor Center & Tap Room

Summerville

Summit Fireside Lodge & Grill

Super 8 Motel

Sykesville Fair Grounds

Tablespoons Cafe & Deli

Taylor Memorial Park

The Burrow

The Flight Deck Restaurant & Lounge

The Forest Lodge & Campground

The Highlands Banquet Center

The Medix Hotel 23155 Quehanna Hwy., (Medix Run) Weedville

The Red Brick Gallery

The Royal Inn

The Sutton-Ditz Museum

Throughout PA

Thunder Mountain Speedway

Thunder Ridge Sporting Clays

Tidioute

Tionesta

Tionesta Lake

Tionesta Market Village

Tionesta Volunteer Fire Department Social Hall

Tionests

Toby Boat Launch

Toby Boat Ramp

Tom’s Run

Town Hall

Tractor Supply

Trails End Restaurant

Tri County Health and Fitness

Tri County Rails to Trails

Trinity Hall

Tuck’d Inn Farm

Twin Lakes

University Art Gallery

Veteran’s Memorial Park- Clarion

Veterans Memorial Bridge

Veterans of Foreign Wars

Walter Dick Memorial Park

Warsaw Sportsmen’s Club

Warsaw Township Sportsman’s Association Williams Rd., Reynoldsville (Hazen)

Weather Discovery Center

Weedville

Weedville Hotel

West Forest High School

Winds of Trade Community Center

Winery at Wilcox

Winery at Wilcox – DuBois

Winslow Hill Elk Viewing Area

Wolf’s Corner Fairgrounds

Wolf’s Den Restaurant

Wolfs Camping Resort

Woodlands Tavern

Woodring Farm

Yoga in the Wilds

Zack’s

Zippo/Case Museum

Glenn Dreyer, director of the Connecticut College Arboretum, said there was enough rainfall last year to keep the bud formation strong.

”We also experienced a very mild winter,” Mr. Dreyer said. ”During very cold winters, and years with early fall and late spring frosts, many flower buds formed the previous summer succumb, so the full potential of the blooming is reduced. My guess is that very few flower buds were damaged over winter, and combined with a moist spring, we are seeing close to the full potential of bloom.”

Mountain laurel, an evergreen shrub that is part of the heath family, can bloom into July in the cooler, more northern parts of the state, Mr. Jaynes said. ”It’s hard to predict when there will be a notable flowering of mountain laurel, but you can safely predict that next year will be a poor year,” said Mr. Jaynes, who was a plant scientist for 25 years at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station in New Haven.

”Next year all of the plants’ energies will be focused on the seed capsules. Little energy will go into flowering growth,” he added.

”For the mountain laurel to look this spectacular for this kind of profuse flowering you need a rare convergence of favorable conditions and circumstances,” Mr. Dreyer said.

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