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.
Fruit is a 5-chambered round capsule, not more than ¼ inch across, with the long erect remains of the pistil at the top.
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?
on: 2011-05-31 07:52:24
My husband and I took a bog walk and found these beauties! We're very happy to identify them.
on: 2011-06-15 18:45:38
Entrance road to Golden Eagle Lodge on the Gunflint Trail. We have a black spruce swamp on either side of our road. We found these growing beside Labrador Tea.
on: 2012-05-31 12:51:22
These were just beginning to open on the boardwalk in the Big Bog on May 16.
on: 2013-06-18 18:16:57
I've never seen this in bloom here before, but this year it's sprouting in the bogs. I took pictures of several clumps. A real treat to see it.
on: 2019-06-05 17:13:15
My mom sent me pictures of Bog Laurel spotted along the Tilson Creek Ski Trails in early June
on: 2022-07-09 09:21:28
Around 1970, in the spring while driving to the family cabin on Briar lake , I saw numerous Bog Laurels blooming in a bog on the Northwest side of Pequaywan Lake Road slightly South of Fox Farm Road. I could see the pink flowers from the road while driving, so I stopped for a short bog walk (risking wet feet) to see what they were. I had NEVER seen or heard of these plants before. The petals had a darker geometric pattern on them if I remember right.