Lighting up the Woods: Mountain Laurel

During a Sunday drive through dense woods on the Virginia/West Virginia border, we were delighted to find large areas of blooming Mountain Laurel.

Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifolia) is a flowering, evergreen shrub in the heather family. Native to the Eastern US, it grows from Southern Maine all the way down to Northern Florida.

Mountain laurel along forest road

It thrives on rocky slopes in highly acidic conditions. You can see it growing here on poor, rocky forest soil:

Small shrubs on rocky slope

Some areas we passed through sported huge thickets of blooming mountain laurel. The waves of white blossoms flooded the normally dark undergrowth layer of the woods with lots of light. The size of a mountain laurel plant ranges from low-lying shrub to small trees, close to 30 feet tall.

Flower buds blush a delicate pink. Once they open into large, showy clusters, the blossoms range from light pink to white.

As beautiful as Mountain Laurel is to look at, all parts of the plant are poisonous to humans, horses, goats, cattle and deer.

And here I was just wondering what Mountain Laurel honey would taste like!



About Beauty Along the Road

A blog about discovering beauty in all its ordinary and extraordinary manifestations.
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16 Responses to Lighting up the Woods: Mountain Laurel

  1. Such a beautiful plant….. does it have a pleasant fragrance? It sure looks like.


  2. Aggie says:



  3. schuttzie says:

    What a beautiful flowering bush! It must be so lovely in bloom 🙂


  4. jpeggytaylor says:

    Beautiful plant – a shame it is so unfriendly! 🙂


  5. So pretty. And to think it’s poisonous! 😦


  6. Maria F. says:

    I’ve always liked the Mountain Laurel but we don’t have it here.


  7. lolaWi says:

    what a beautiful drive, Annette! the Mountain Laurel in bloom is just stunning. i wonder if it is harmful to birds and bees, as well. 🙂


  8. Annette, when we were visiting friends in Asheville, NC last month, we took a long hike in the mountains surrounding their home. The Mountain Laurel was blooming and it was such a treat to see. The flowers are gorgeous. Like you, I took many photos of the flowers. They reminded me of explosions of tiny fireworks.


  9. Wonderful photos and reminders Annette. I wish I had taken advantage of the Appalachia Mountains more when I lived in N. Va. 🙂 SW VA is very beautiful.


  10. blueberriejournal says:

    So beautiful blossoms. I’ve never seen that before. I am suprised that it is poisonous. Is it related to the laurel we use in the kitchen or do they just share the name?


  11. Anarette says:

    I have mountain laurel in my yard but they don’t look that good!


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