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.

West Virginia 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.