Wikijunior:Summer Flowers of Northern New England/Kalmia angustifolia

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Sheep Laurel
(Kalmia angustifolia)
Cluster of flowers
Kalmia angustifolia 3869.JPG
Sheep Laurel has beautiful pink flowers shaped like bowls. The petals are joined together all around the edges. At the base of the petals there are some darker pink dots. It looks like there are more dark dots around the edge of the "bowl" but if you look closely, you will see that these dots are connected to little threads. The "threads" are called stamens (stay-mins), and the dots on the end of each is called an anther. From the very center of the flower arises a white tube called a style. The flowers are located a near the middle of the plant, peeking out from a layer of long, narrow leaves.

The leaves are leathery, thick, and shiny. They stay green year round. The stem is woody and grows anywhere from six inches to two feet high.

Sheep Laurel is closely related to Mountain Laurel. Mountain laurel can grow to be very tall (up to 30 feet) and has wide leaves. Sheep Laurel leaves are far narrower. These two plants are in the same genus (jee-nuss), and their species names remind us whether the leaves are wide or narrow. Sheep Laurel is Kalmia angustifolia, and Mountain Laurel is Kalmia latifolia. Angustifolia means "narrow leaf," and latifolia means "wide leaf."

Quick Facts:
Sheep Laurel is poisonous, especially to sheep. It has many other names that attest to this unfortunate fact, including Lamb-kill, Calf-kill, and Sheep-poison.

Sheep Laurel growing at the base of a Pine tree among some blueberries.