PA Ecology Mountain Laurel

Common Name: Mountain Laurel

Scientific Name: Kalmia latifolia

The Mountain Laurel is Pennsylvania’s state flower. It was selected as the States flower in 1933. Mountain Laurel is identified as an evergreen shrub. They are native in Eastern North America and although Pennsylvania’s state flower they can be found anywhere from Maine to Florida. The Native Americans were the first to utilize this beautiful shrub/tree. They used it to create different tools, such as the spoon. This explains the common nickname given to the Mountain Laurel, spoonwood.

This floral symbol of Pennsylvania is an absolutely beautiful creation. The Mountain Laurel can be classified as both a shrub and a tree. At mature growth the tree can be anywhere from 6 to 12 feet tall and have a balanced width of anywhere between 6 to 12 feet. Mountain Laurels contain dark green leaves that survive all year long. The leaves resemble a leathery texture and are abou 4 inches long and 1-2 inches wide. In the spring these shrubs are well known to produce beautiful bushels of pink, white, and purple flowers. These little flowers can be described as having a star shaped structure. Also during the sprouting season these shrubs produce berries that hold a number of small tiny seeds. All parts of the plants are poisonous.

The Mountain Laurel needs soil that has a very acidic pH. The soil should be moist and home to a large number of organisms that all work together to provide the best root, foliage, and flora growth for the Mountain Laurel. The Mountain Laurel is a fan of the sun but is best with partial shade. The Mountain Laurel is primarily pollinated by bubble bees. The seeds are spread by the use of wind dispersing.

These beautiful trees/shrubs are common around the Northeastern part of the United States. They are a select few in the total number of native flora that we can see in our kaleidoscope of plants and animals every time we look out our window. The Mountain Laurel in our back yard in Pennsylvania could be a thousand times different from a Mountain Laurel found in the back yard of a great aunt that lives in Kentucky. The world itself is a kaleidoscope of many organisms from plants to animals. But to think that our small section of the Northeastern section of the United Sates is just one little spec and shimmer that is found in the great picture that makes up the whole kaleidoscope in total.

Cited:

http://www.fs.fed.us/database/feis/plants/shrub/kallat/all.html#DISTRIBUTION

http://www.statesymbolsusa.org/Pennsylvania/Flower_Mt_Laurel.html

http://www.bhg.com/gardening/plant-dictionary/shrub/mountain-laurel/

http://plants.usda.gov/java/charProfile?symbol=KALA

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kalmia_latifolia

Image Cited:

http://williambritten.com/wordpress/wildflowers/mountain-laurel-time-in-the-smokies/

http://www.southernlandscapes.com/Plant-Glossary-Trees.html

http://www.rlrouse.com/mountain-laurel-blossoms.html

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