Bogs and Acidic Peatlands of Southern New England by Marsha C. Salett
Taxonomy
Kalmia polifolia Wang.
ERICACEAE (Heath Family)
EtymologyKalmia is named for Pehr Kalm (1715-79), a naturalist and student of Linnaeus; polifolia is Latin for gray-leaved.
Synonyms (Common Name)Pale Laurel, Swamp Laurel
DescriptionBog laurel is a low to medium (6"-3') evergreen, ericaceous shrub that is quite nondescript in the bog except when blooming with pink to magenta flowers. Its sparse branches have two-edged twigs with flattened, winged margins. Like sheep laurel, its leaves contain acetylandromedol which is toxic to livestock and people.
Wetland indicator statusOBL
Plant Height.5-3 feet
LeavesEvergreen, mostly opposite or in 3's, simple, entire; 1/2 -- 1 1/2" long, narrowly linear to lanceolate with a blunted tip; leathery, dark green above, underside pale with sparse white hairs; inrolled margins, prominent midvein. POISONOUS.
Flower/InflorescenceRose to magenta, 1/2" wide, saucer-shaped with 5 lobes; in terminal clusters. (Laurel flowers have 10 stamens with pollen-laden anthers that are "sprung" from pockets in the corolla by insect pollinators.)
Flowering PeriodMay-July
FruitCapsule, tiny (1/8"), ovoid, 5-parted; on long, erect stalk.
Fruiting PeriodJuly-September, persisting throughout the winter.
HabitatBogs, pond margins, alpine barrens.
RangeNewfoundland and Labrador to Alaska; south to New Jersey, Michigan, and California.
(c) 1998-2006 Marsha C. Salett