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Kalmia latifolia, commonly called Mountain-laurel or Spoonwood, is a flowering plant in the family Ericaceae, native to the eastern United States, from southern Maine south to northern Florida, and west to Indiana and Louisiana.
It is an evergreen shrub growing to 3-9 m tall. The leaves are 3-12 cm long and 1-4 cm wide. Its flowers are star-shaped, ranging from red to pink to white, and occurring in clusters. It blooms between May and June. All parts of the plant are poisonous. Roots are fibrous, matted.
The plant is naturally found on rocky slopes and mountainous forest areas. The plant often grows in large thickets, covering large areas of forest floor. In North America it becomes a tree on the mountains of the Carolinas but is a shrub further north.
It is also known as Ivybush, Calico Bush, Spoonwood (because native Americans used to make their spoons out of it), Sheep Laurel, Lambkill and Clamoun.
Mountain-laurel is the state flower of Connecticut and Pennsylvania.
The plant was first recorded in America in 1624, but it was named after Pehr Kalm, who sent samples to Linnaeus in the 18th century.
Additional recommended knowledge
The blossoms of this plant are equipped with a most evident device to secure cross-fertilization. Nature has many such arrangements, but it is not often that they are so openly displayed. Each flower has ten stamens and each corolla is provided with ten little pockets. When the flower opens each stamen is found bent back with its anther thrust into one of these tiny cavities. In the center of the flower lies the nectar, and when the bee comes to get it, she brushes against the filaments, which fly up and scatter their pollen over her body. She leaves on the stigma of the next flower she visits the pollen he has gathered in the first, and so on he goes from flower to flower. The honey made from this plant is toxic.
Cultivation and uses
The plant was originally brought to Europe as an ornamental plant during the 18th century. It is still widely grown for its attractive flowers. Numerous cultivars have been selected with varying flower color. Does not flourish in a limestone country.
This is one of the most satisfactory shrubs for lawn or garden. When in full bloom it is of surpassing beauty, and its bright evergreen leaves make it conspicuous at any time.
A little known American use of the plant was in the making of arbors for early wooden-works clocks. Mountain-laurel is a foodplant of last resort for gypsy moth caterpillars, utilized only during outbreaks when moth densities are extremely high.
Mountain laurel is poisonous to several different animals, including horses, goats, cattle, sheep, and deer, due to andromedotoxin and arbutin. The green parts of the plant, the flowers, twigs, and pollen are all toxic, and symptoms of toxicity begin to appear about 6 hours following ingestion. Poisoning produces anorexia, repeated swallowing, profuse salivation, depression, uncoordination, vomiting, frequent defecation, watering of the eyes, irregular or difficulty breathing, weakness, cardiac distress, convulsions, coma, and eventually death. Autopsy will show GI irritation and hemorrhage.
|This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Kalmia_latifolia". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.|