Mountain Rose Bay (R. Catawbiense) is a similar species found in the higher mountains from Va. to Ga. It has oblong, round-ended leaves and flowers with a broad, bell-shaped corolla of lilac-purple petals.
Lapland Rose Bay (R. Lapponicum) is a dwarf species with small elliptical leaves and a prostrate stem, both dotted with rusty scales, and small purple flowers. It is found from N. Y. and Me. to the Artie regions.
Mountain Laurel. Kalmia latifolia.
Mountain Laurel; Spoon-Wood (Kalmia Latifolia) is one of the most popular of our beautiful flowering shrubs. In the North it grows from 3 to 8 feet in height, but in the Southern States it often attains heights of 20 to 30 feet. Its evergreen leaves lend themselves very readily to decorative effects and are used in large quantities for wreaths, so many are used, in fact, that Laurel is becoming scarce near the larger cities of New England. Laurel often grows in dense thickets, so dense, in fact, that it is sometimes impossible to force a way through them.
The leaves are dark glossy green, pointed at each end and oblong in shape; they are arranged alternately along the branches and in dense terminal clusters. The flowers are very peculiar in their construction, the corolla being deep saucer or bowl-shaped, with five short, broad lobes; on the outside, around the bottom edge of the "bowl," are ten small humps, that inside the corolla form little pockets to receive the anthers of the slender white stamens, curving from the center of the blossom like the spokes of a wheel.
Both moths and bees visit these flowers in quest of the little supply of nectar that is secreted about the base of the greenish pistil. In order to get at it they alight right in the center of the flower, and pollen they may have brought from previous blossoms visited, is quickly entangled on the sticky stigma. As they successively insert their proboscis between the curved stamens, these become loosened from their little pockets and spring upwards, covering the under side of the visitor with a fresh supply of pollen to carry to another blossom. The flower stems are sticky so that only winged insects can get to the interior. Laurel is common from N. B. to Ont. and southwards.
Sheep Laurel. Kalmia angustifolia.
Sheep Laurel; Lambkill (Kalmia Angustifolia) is a small shrubby species, ranging from 8 to 36 inches high and is no less beautiful than the pre-ceeding. Besides the common names given above, it is less often known as "Sheep Poison" and "Wicky," a rather sinister lot of names to be applied to a shrub with such handsome flowers.
All of the laurels have dangerous properties, the juices of the leaves being very poisonous. It is also claimed that honey made by bees, feeding on the nectar from laurel blossoms, is also poisonous. This species gets its many names, referring to its destructive effects on sheep, because it grows in abundance in pastures suitable only for the pasturage of sheep. The leaves of this small laurel look tempting but are very often fatal to the animals eating them.
The small, oblong leaves are rather closely set on the upright, woody stems either oppositely or in threes; they are bright green above and much paler on the under side, often spotted with rusty; the stem and the midrib is of a yellowish shade of green.
The handsome flowers are grouped in clusters about the middle of the branches or near the top, with a dense cluster of light green leaves, of new growth, just forcing its way above them. Their shapes, forms and mechanisms are about like those of the Mountain Laurel, but the color is a beautiful, deep pink; little red anthers fit snugly in the ten little pockets formed for them in the surface of the corolla. Sheep Laurel is common from Lab. to Ont. and southwards, blooming in June and July.