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Plantidote of the Day 2012-05-23

Kathryn's picture

Mystery Flowering Shrub

There are a few of these around here in Central NJ, so this is probably a well known landscaping shrub and I just am in the dark about what it is. But I have really fallen for it -- the little buds are just like closed parasols.

Update, h/t NWLuna [Thanks!!]:

White Mountain Laurel
Kalmia latifolia

[I am going with the latifolia due to the leaf color and shape.] And it is not a common landscape shrub because it is difficult and costly to root or graft, and seeds don't grow true. It's an evergreen in the blueberry family, part shade to sun, and Luna is right, every part of it is toxic... including, honey that bees make from it. So that may well be why it isn't found around much.

More here.

Mystery Flowering Shrub

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NWLuna's picture
Submitted by NWLuna on

I've only seen Kalmia polifolia, a species that is known as swamp laurel/mountain laurel. It's a small shrub with pinkish flowers, growing in damp areas in the mountains. The particularly unique packaging of the bud shape is how I recognize it. Yours must be in the same genus. My guidebook says the leaves and flowers of K. polifolia have "andromedotoxin" which is poisonous to cattle and sheep. So don't let your livestock graze on it....

This white-flowered form is lovely!