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Native Shrubs in Wildlife Landscaping

Mountain Laurel
Mountain Laurel
Good Food and Excellent Cover

Mountain Laurel Kalmai latifolia

Thick, coarse evergreen shrub or small gnarled tree 6 to 9 feet tall often forming dense thickets.

Roughened by narrow, thin scales which peel off exposing brownish inner bark.

Simple, smooth, evergreen, alternate 1 to 5 inches long, to 1 inch across.

Dry globose smooth capsule. Inconspicuous.

WV Range:
Probably in every county but most abundant in the mountains.

Natural Habitat:
Rocky or gravelly soil in acid woods. Often found in thickets with Great Laurel (Rhododendron maximum).

Wildlife Use:
Leaves are poisonous to livestock and humans. Deer browse the plants and ruffed grouse eat the leaves and twig tips.

Uses: Best planted in groups as border or screen, also naturalizing along roadsides.
Light: Shade to full sun. Flowers best in full sun.
Soil Moisture: Dry to moist. Growth is better in moist conditions.
Soil pH: Acid
Problems: Leaves often get a leaf-spot disease which make the foliage less appealing.

Compiled by: Katharine B. Gregg, professor of biology, West Virginia Wesleyan College , Buckhannon , West Virginia .

Written by West Virginia Native Plant Society members and jointly published with the WV Wildlife Diversity Program.

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