A small genus of handsome evergreen indigenous shrubs. Kalmia, in honor of Peter Kalm, a pupil of Linnaeus.
Kalmia latifolia. - Mountain Laurel, Spoon Wood, etc. - Among the shrubs that embellish the scenery of the interior of the country, this may be considered one of the most elegant. Its general height is from five to ten feet, but may sometimes be seen rising from fifteen to twenty feet, among the rocks and thickets, almost impenetrable by its crooked ana unyielding trunks, locked and entangled with each other. The leaves are about three or four inches long, evergreen, giving much life to the forests in the winter, by their deep shining-green. The flowers are disposed in large corymbs, at the extremity of the branches; numerous; of a pure white, blush, or a beautiful rose-color, and more rarely a deep red. The season of flowering is in the months of June and July. Nothing can exceed the magnificence of its appearance when in full bloom. The soil in which it best succeeds is soft, loose, and cool, with a northern exposure. The foliage is the richest when the plant is grown in the shade. The soil suitable for its growth is the same as recommended for the Azalea. Young plants, taken up with balls of earth attached, will succeed well in the garden, in the shade. Those from open pastures will flourish best, if such can be found. There is no shrub, foreign or native, that will exceed this in splendor, when well grown.
K. angustifolia. - Narrow-leaved Kalmia. - This is a low shrub, that covers large tracts of cold, moist land, in almost every section of the country. It is a great nuisance to the farmer, who looks suspiciously upon it, as it has the reputation of being poisonous to sheep and other animals, which, for the sake of variety or want of other food, sometimes feed upon it. Cobbett says : "The little dwarf brush stuff, that infests the plains of Long Island, is, under a fine Latin name, a choice green-house plant in England, selling for a dollar when no bigger than a handful of thyme." How large a handful he does not say. "When in bloom," he remarks, "it resembles a large bunch of Sweet William. It is so pretty, it is worth having in a green-house, where it would probably blow in April, on Long Island." Blooms in June and July; flowers red, or deep pink, and I have seen a white variety; leaves evergreen; grows from one to two feet high.