Kalmia polifolia (Bog Laurel)
|Also known as:||Pale Laurel, Swamp-laurel|
|Life cycle:||perennial woody|
|Habitat:||part shade, sun; bogs, acidic lakeshores, fens, muskeg|
|Bloom season:||May - June|
|Plant height:||6 to 30 inches|
|Wetland Indicator Status:||GP: none MW: OBL NCNE: OBL|
|MN county distribution (click map to enlarge):|
|National distribution (click map to enlarge):|
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Loose cluster of up to 13 flowers on slender stalks arising from the top-most leaf axils at the tip of the stem. Flowers are 1/3 to ½ inch across, pink to purple, saucer shaped with 5 sides, the lobes broadly triangular. Sepals are oval and less than 1/8 inch long, green/brown with a conspicuous green ring at the base. 10 white stamens with dark tips surround the slender greenish pink style in the center. A plant often has multiple brancing stems.
Leaves and stem:
Leaves are evergreen into 2nd year, simple, opposite or occasionally in whorls of 3, long and narrow, ½ to 1¾ inches long and 1/8 to ½ inch wide, with a pointed or blunt tip and little or no leaf stalk. The edges are smooth and roll under; upper surface is dark shiny green with minute hairs on midrib, undersurface is whitish and downy with fine hairs. Stems woody, spreading low and then up, new branches flattened and minutely hairy becoming smooth with age, older stems develop fine grayish surface but smooth underneath.
Notes:A denizen of wet places filled with insects, most people avoid encountering Bog Laurel, though the early bloom period oftens precludes major mosquito hatches. It is highly dependent on sphagnum peat growth and saturated peaty muck soils. Found in association with other interesting bog plants—Chamaedaphne calyculata, Andromeda glaucophylla, Rhododendron groenlandicum and others—a visit is usually worth the trip. This species is sensitive to habitat changes incluidng fire, encroaching trees and shrubs, and even flooding. Where found it is usually an indicator of a stable ecosystem.
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Photos by K. Chayka and Peter M. Dziuk taken at several locations in central Aitkin County
Have you seen this plant in Minnesota, or have any other comments about it?