Kalmia latifolia, commonly called mountain laurel, is a multi-stemmed, broadleaf evergreen shrub native to Eastern North America that can be found in open rocky or sandy woods, cool meadows, balds, mountain slopes and woodland margins. It’s noted for its excellent spring flowers and typically grows as a dense rounded shrub to 5-15’ tall, opening up and developing gnarly branches with age.
This shrub’s unique, intricate flowers appear in terminal clusters, 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.
WARNING: Mountain laurel is poisonous to several different animals including horses, goats, cattle deer, monkeys and humans. All parts, including the pollen, as well as food products made from them, may produce neurotoxic and gastrointestinal symptoms in humans eating more than a modest amount. Symptoms of toxicity begin to appear about 6 hours following ingestion, and includes irregular or difficulty breathing, anorexia, repeated swallowing, profuse salivation, watering of the eyes and nose, cardiac distress, incoordination, vomiting, weakness, convulsions, paralysis, coma, and eventually death. Autopsy will show gastrointestinal irritation and hemorrhage.