Mountain Laurel in Bloom at Shallenberger

Mountain laurel is also known as calico bush or spoonwood. As a mature shrub this evergreen plant can grow to be anywhere between 9.8 feet to 29.5 feet in height (3 m to 9 m). It is native to the eastern United States, and it prefers to grow on rocky cliffs in acidic soil. Although it is a member of the blueberry family, no part of the plant is safe to eat. Even the pollen is poisonous which means that honey made from its pollen is also toxic. Besides being potentially lethal to humans, it is also poisonous to deer, cattle, horses and goats.

However as long as you have no interest in eating it, Mountain laurel is a beautiful shrub, especially when it’s in bloom. The flowers grow in clusters; they are usually white, though some have a light pink tint. The plant blooms in May and June.

Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia)




We have seen Mountain laurel growing in a number of parks, but we decided to go to Shallenberger to take photos of it in blossom. As we described in a previous post, there is a rocky knob in Shallenberger made of sandstone so dense that glacial ice flowed around it instead of plowing over it during the last Ice Age.

With that said, here’s what it looked like on the south face of Allen Knob at Shallenberger State Nature Preserve. The scent of the blossoms was also very appealing.

Mountain laurel

Mountain laurel

Mountain laurel

Mountain laurel

Mountain laurel

Mountain laurel

Mountain laurel

The evergreen foliage of Mountain laurel.

Buds and blossoms viewed from behind

Me on my way back down from Allen Knob.




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© Deborah Platt, Robert Platt and TrekOhio.com 2012 to 2017

13 thoughts on “Mountain Laurel in Bloom at Shallenberger”

  1. Malou says:

    Great post, Deb. Didn’t know that this beauty has a dark side. Same with the oleanders which I really found to be so alluring in Italy. 😉

  2. beckarooney says:

    Lovely shots and great information, I’d never heard of Mountain Laurel before. You learn something new every day! Nice post 😀 x

    1. Deb Platt says:

      Thanks, Beckarooney! Some of our states have official “state flowers”. The blossom of the Mountain Laurel is the state flower for Pennsylvania (my birth state) and Connecticut. I have lived in Ohio for many years now, and we have both a “state flower” (the scarlet carnation) and a “state wildflower” (great white trillium). I don’t know if there are “official flowers” in the United Kingdom, but if so, I’d be interested in learning about them.

      1. beckarooney says:

        That is really interesting! We have counties in Britain like Devon, Cornwall, Somerset, Dorset, etc which might be a bit like states I think but we don’t have official flowers for each one.
        The closest we have is different plant emblems for Wales, Scotland, England and Ireland (daffodil, thistle, rose and shamrock). 🙂 x

  3. Beautiful photos and interesting post, Deb. I had no idea it was poisonous, wow!

  4. Patricia says:

    I always learn something interesting from your posts. This was another very useful post and I am grateful for your sharing it with us.

    1. Deb Platt says:

      Why thank you, Patricia! One of the nice things about doing these posts is that I usually learn something, too. I had decided to do a post on Mountain Laurel because they are so pretty. But it wasn’t till I did a bit of research for the post that I learned that the shrubs were poisonous.

  5. Jill Jarrell Downard says:

    Beautiful! And I just learned so much more about it! Thanks Deb!

    1. Deb Platt says:

      Your welcome, Jill. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. janechese says:

    I got curious as soon as I started reading about this bush in my email. Very nice details in the close-ups of this deadly little plant and attractive landscape in the wider shots..

    1. Deb Platt says:

      Thank you, Jane!

  7. It’s beautiful, but I had no idea it was poisonous!

    1. Deb Platt says:

      I didn’t know that, either! I was stunned to learn that even honey made from its flowers was dangerous.

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