Family, Heath. This is a low shrub, 1 foot or more high, with narrow, evergreen leaves in whorls of threes. Flowers, from the axils, in corymbs of a deep crimson color, the dark anthers which nestle in their pockets having the effect of spots.
Thoreau always speaks of it as "lambkill." He says (June 13th): "The lambkill is out. I remember with what delight I used to discover this flower in dewy mornings. All things in the world must be seen with the morning dew upon them, must be seen with youthful, early opened, hopeful eyes."
And this is how he writes of the flower at evening: "How beautiful the solid cylinders of the lambkill now, just before sunset - small, 10-sided, rosy-crimson basins about 2 inches above the recurved, drooping, dry capsules of last year!" Most people would not agree with him that it is "handsomer than the mountain laurel."
Supposed to be poisonous to young animals and hurtful to cattle and horses. Stags eat the leaves, digging them from under the snow. The Indians make a decoction of kalmia leaves (says Dr. Barton) with which to commit suicide.
Atlantic States to Georgia.