Mountain Laurel - Kalmia latifolia

Native Shrubs ... in wildlife landscaping

West Virginia Native Plant Society
West Virginia Nongame Wildlife Program

  Form: Thick, coarse evergreen shrub or small gnarled tree 6 to 9 feet tall often forming dense thickets.
  Bark: Roughened by narrow, thin scales which peel off exposing brownish inner bark.
  Leaves: Simple, smooth, evergreen, alternate, 1 to 5 inches long, to 1 inch across.
  Fruit: Dry, globose, small capsule. Inconspicuous.
West Virginia Range:
Probably in every county but most abundant in the mountains.
Natural Habitat:
Rocky or gravelly soil in acid woods. Often found in thickets with Great Laurel (Rhododendron maximum).
Wildlife Use:
Leaves are poisonous to livestock and humans. Deer browse the plants and ruffed grouse eat the leaves and twig tips.
Uses: Best planted in groups as a border or screen, also naturalizing along roadsides.
Light: Shade to full sun.
Soil Moisture: Dry to moist. Growth is better in moist conditions.
Soil pH: Acid.
Problems: Leaves often get a leaf-spot disease which make the foliage less appealing.

Compiled by: Katharine B. Gregg, professor of biology, West Virginia Wesleyan College, Buckhannon, West Virginia

Written by West Virginia Native Plant Society members and jointly published with the WV Nongame Program

Illustration from Flora of West Virginia, Strausbaugh and Core