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Northern Sheepkill Kalmia angustifolia

Other Common Name(s):

Phonetic Spelling
KAL-mee-ah an-gus-tih-FOH-lee-ah
This plant has high severity poison characteristics.
See below
Description

Sheep laurel is an evergreen flowering shrub in the Ericaceae (heath) familythat is native to North America from Canada south to VA in a variety of locations including moist bogs or swamps, disturbed sites, roadsides, and dry pine forests. In the wild it is found on sites that are typically dry in the summer and damp or even flooded in the spring.  The genus name Kalmia is after Peter Kalm an 18th century botanist.  

It grows up to 3 feet tall and 6 feet wide with a tap root and a dense mat of interwoven rhizomes which allow it to form colonies. In cultivation, it prefers full sun in moist acidic soils. While it will survive it languishes in the shade.  Avoid planting in windy sites.

Showy saucer shaped bright pink flowers form in summer in clusters below the leaves.  The plant is a larval host to butterflies and moths as well as provides forage and nesting sites for birds.  

Use in naturalized areas, foundation plantings, or woodland settings. It works as an understory shrub and grows well in wet or boggy conditions in a landscape.  In maybe adaptable to southern states in mountainous areas. The var. carolina is native to coastal and mountains of NC.

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems:  In fields, it can be problematic for grazing animals due to toxicity.  High pH soils will cause chlorosis.  It can outcompete other plants and become weedy in some disturbed.  It is allelopathic to conifer seedlings.

 

See this plant in the following landscape:
Cultivars / Varieties:
var. carolina
Tags:
#evergreen#poisonous#small mammals#blue-green leaves#glossy leaves#disturbed areas#pollinator plant#leathery leaves#nesting sites#flowers late spring#larval host plant#allelopathic#food source fall#flowers early summer#FAC#food source herbage#food source nectar#food source pollen#Coastal FAC#Piedmont Mountains FAC#wet soils tolerant#bird friendly#food source hard mast fruit#fall color red#butterfly friendly#understory shrub#fall color purple#problem for cats#problem for dogs#problem for horses#Audubon#brown elfin butterfly#boggy
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
var. carolina
Tags:
#evergreen#poisonous#small mammals#blue-green leaves#glossy leaves#disturbed areas#pollinator plant#leathery leaves#nesting sites#flowers late spring#larval host plant#allelopathic#food source fall#flowers early summer#FAC#food source herbage#food source nectar#food source pollen#Coastal FAC#Piedmont Mountains FAC#wet soils tolerant#bird friendly#food source hard mast fruit#fall color red#butterfly friendly#understory shrub#fall color purple#problem for cats#problem for dogs#problem for horses#Audubon#brown elfin butterfly#boggy
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Kalmia
    Species:
    angustifolia
    Family:
    Ericaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Woody
    Country Or Region Of Origin:
    Eastern Canada to Eastern U.S.A
    Distribution:
    CT, DC, DE, MA, MD, ME, MI, NH, NJ, NY, PA, RI, VA, VT, WV Canada: MB, NB, NS, PE
    Wildlife Value:
    Grouse and other birds forage the leaves, willow ptarmigans use the plant for nesting sites. Larval host plant to the Columbia silk moth, Northern blue butterfly (Lycaeides idas), and brown elfin butterfly.
    Dimensions:
    Height: 1 ft. 0 in. - 3 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 4 ft. 0 in. - 6 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Shrub
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Rounded
    Spreading
    Growth Rate:
    Slow
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Medium
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Neutral (6.0-8.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Moist
    Occasional Flooding
    Occasionally Dry
    Occasionally Wet
    Available Space To Plant:
    3 feet-6 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    5b, 5a, 6b, 6a, 7b, 7a, 8b, 8a
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Cream/Tan
    Display/Harvest Time:
    Fall
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Description:
    Small dehiscent capsule with many seeds displays from September to October and can remain on the plant for many years.
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Corymb
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Spring
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Bell
    Saucer
    Flower Petals:
    4-5 petals/rays
    Flower Description:
    3/8 inch rose-pink to purplish crimson saucer to bell-shaped flowers with 5 petals and 10 stamens. They appear under leaves encircling the stem on stalked clusters from April to July.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Broadleaf Evergreen
    Leaf Color:
    Blue
    Green
    Leaf Feel:
    Glossy
    Leathery
    Deciduous Leaf Fall Color:
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Opposite
    Whorled
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Description:
    Oval blue-green leaves with paler undersides. Turn reddish-green to purple in fall
  • Bark:
    Bark Color:
    Light Brown
    Light Gray
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Brown/Copper
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
    Stem Cross Section:
    Round
    Stem Surface:
    Smooth (glabrous)
    Stem Description:
    Smooth brown erect stems
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Theme:
    Butterfly Garden
    Pollinator Garden
    Attracts:
    Butterflies
    Pollinators
    Small Mammals
    Songbirds
    Resistance To Challenges:
    Wet Soil
    Problems:
    Allelopathic
    Poisonous to Humans
    Problem for Cats
    Problem for Dogs
    Problem for Horses
    Weedy
  • Poisonous to Humans:
    Poison Severity:
    High
    Poison Symptoms:
    May be fatal If eaten in large quantities. Salivation, watering of eyes and nose, slow pulse, nausea, vomiting, sweating, abdominal pain, headache, tingling of skin, lack of coordination, convulsions, and paralysis, diarrhea, weakness, cardiac failure.
    Poison Toxic Principle:
    Andromedotoxin, a resinoid; arbutin, a glycoside, Grayanotoxin
    Causes Contact Dermatitis:
    No
    Poison Part:
    Flowers
    Fruits
    Leaves
    Seeds
    Stems