Virginia Tech Dendrology

mountain laurel Ericaceae Kalmia latifolia L. Listen to the Latin play symbol: KALA
Leaf: Alternate, simple, evergreen, elliptical, 2 to 5 inches long, entire margin, pointed tip, mid-vein raised on upper surfaces, shiny/waxy green above, yellow green below.
Flower: Species is monoecious; very showy clusters (3 to 6 inches across), white to rose colored with purple markings, each flower 1 inch across, with the petals forming a distinct firm bowl around the pistil and stamens, appear in late spring and early summer.
Fruit: A round, brown dehiscent capsule, 1/4 inch long, splitting into 5 valves when dry, occur in open clusters; releasing very small seeds when mature in the fall.
Twig: Generally forked and twisted, green or red when young, later brownish red, leaves cluster at branch tips.
Bark: Thin, dark brown to red in color, shredding and splitting on old stems.
Form: A small tree or shrub with many twisted stems reaching up to 10 feet tall in mountains (occasionally 25 feet on Piedmont of southeastern U.S.)
Looks like: mountain pieris - great rhododendron - sheep laurel
leaf flower fruit twig bark form1 map
Additional Range Information: Kalmia latifolia is native to North America. Range may be expanded by planting. See states reporting mountain laurel.
More Information: Fall Color
External Links: USDAFS Additional Silvics - USDA Plants Database - USDAFS Forest Products Lab
All material © 2017 Virginia Tech Dept. of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation; Photos and text by: John Seiler, Edward Jensen, Alex Niemiera, and John Peterson