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Cultivars of Mountain Laurel, Indigenous Flowers of Connecticut

 


 

             The Mountain laurel or the Kalmia latifolia is considered to be the most beautiful indigenous flowers of native American shrubs. Since the earliest days of the civilization period, travelers have been constantly attracted to the Mountain laurel’s fragrance and its rich clusters of pink and white blossoms. These indigenous flowers are vividly in contrast with the fields and forest’s rich dark colors and shade.
By General Assembly, Mountain laurel or Kalmia latifolia was designated as the state flower of Connecticut in 1907. Aside from being a native plant found in the Connecticut state, it is also commonly native to the eastern part of the United States. Mountain laurel is native as well in Louisiana, Indiana, Maine and Florida.
Kalmia latifolia, aside from being known as the Mountain laurel is also commonly called “Spoonwood”, “Clamoun”, “Lambkill”, “Calico Bush”, “Sheep Laurel” and “Ivybush”. This particular indigenous flower belongs to the Ericaceae family of flowering plants.
The Mountain laurel is an evergreen shrub. It blooms during the month of May and June. Kalmia latifolia can grow from 3 to 9m tall with leaves that are 1 to 4cm wide and 3 to 12 cm long. Mountain laurel flowers are star-like in shape with colors that range from white, to pink to red which are usually found in clusters. However, these indigenous flowers Connecticut are of poisonous specie. Every part of this native plant is considered poisonous from its fibrous matted roots to its leaves flowers and fruits.
Indigenous flowers of the plant Kalmia latifolia are naturally found in mountainous areas of forests and rocky slopes. You can find large thickets of his particular plant on the forest floor, covering large areas of it. In some parts of America, like in the Northern regions such as the mountains found in the Carolinas, Mountain laurel grows into a tree unlike in areas further north where it remains as a shrub plant.
Flowers of Kalmia latifolia are showy with blooms that last up to two weeks or more. At every branch tip, there are clusters of individual flowers of 4” to 6” in diameter. Measured across, individual flowers of Kalmia latifolia are from 0.75” to I” in size. The color of this indigenous flower is normally in shades of pink that gradually fades into white.
Varieties or cultivars of Kalmia latifolia have produced breeds and selections of different shades and colors. Cultivated Mountain laurels are now found in red, pink and pure white flowered forms. There are also selections of cinnamon banded and red budded as well.
There are four varieties of Kalmia latifolia and they are f.angustata, f.fuscata, f.myrtifolia and f.polypetala. F.angustata varieties of Kalmia latifolia have linear features of narrow foliage similar to willow leaves. Few selections have been introduced with names such as “Bay State”, “Bullseye”, “Bridesmaid”, “Carol” and “Carousel”.
F.fuscata on the other hand is cultivars developed and produced with banded corollas. This variety sporadically occurs in wild populations with names “Galaxy”, “Madeline”, “Heart of Fire”, “Little Linda” and “Kaleidoscope” to name a few.
While f.myrtifolia is characterized by smaller leaves, closely-spaced along it’s stem. This particular variety has slower growth rate with flowers of normal size. Derived from this form are new miniature cultivars like the “Nathan Hale”, “Olympic Wedding”, “Peppermint”, “Pinwheel” and Pink Charm”.
The last variety which is the f.polypetala is rare in nature and stands out among the rest of the bunch. This botanical form of Kalmia latifolia features 5 cut strap-like petals in its corolla. This botanical form is rare in nature and features a flower corolla that is cut into 5 strap-like petals. You’ll find some of this particular variety in names such as “Raspberry Glow”, “Shooting Star”, “Silver Dollar”, “Yankee Doodle”, “Tinkerbell” and “Snowdrift”.

Indigenous Flowers in Connecticut
Kalmia Latifolia
Mountain laurel

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One of the most attractive of the American shrubs, the fragrance of the white and pink petals of Kalmia Latifolia or Mountain laurel dramatically contrasts the deep green forest colours and the light green grass of the fields. Travellers, even way back in the colonization period, never fail to stop and savour the beauty of these native flowers. Its natural appeal has become a delight during spring time in the woodlands.

Mountain laurel was designated as the indigenous state flower of Connecticut in 1907 by the General Assembly. The flower is classified as flowering shrub and grows tall, hard and lustrous. In the early fall, the plants will start to bud. Then will grow into mature plant with elegant and delicate petals like candies between the months of May and July. Interestingly, buds and flowers come in distinct features. Most of the species will produce several buds than the others. There are at least 80 popular varieties of the specie.

The laurel loves the sun and grows healthier as they are soaked in the heat and can also survive even below zero temperatures. For gardeners and lover of plants, there is a need to give extra care and protection on its roots. Because of its fine and narrow structure, too much fertilizer and heat will eventually hinder the growth. Though they can grow well under shades and shadows, but they are expectedly to lose their natural bright colours. To ensure their full growth, laurels need to be planted high and with mulch. Mulching aids in keeping the moisture of the soil which is perfect for the plant. During growth periods, they needed to be watered constantly and regularly. Avoid drying the plant by maintaining moist in the soil but well drained acidic soil, peat moss and humus. Small amounts of fertilizer (rhododendron and azalea, pine needles or alkaline) may aid in the growth especially that these kinds of flowers loves acid.

Generally, these native flowers of Connecticut and Pennsylvania, are not hard to breed. They can grow as high as 5 to 8 inches in height which is best for outdoor gardens, whether big or small in terms of square areas. An attempt to uproot the flowers directly from where it came from may not be as successful as buying them from a nearby and trusted nursery. Chances are the roots will be damaged and will limit the plant to full growth if not die in the process.

Pruning is not very necessary for these kinds of plants, however taking off the seed heads after they bloomed by pinching helps the plant to blossom all the more in the next season. But in cases where you find your laurel plants growing higher than your desired design on your landscape you can cut them even as low as to ground level. But they do survive even if you constantly prune them when necessary. New plants will grow again and again even within ten years time.

   
 

 


 


 

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Wedding Flower

 

Mountain Laurel

(Kalmia latifolia)
Adopted on April 17, 1907.

Designated as the State Flower by the General Assembly in 1907, the Mountain Laurel is perhaps the most beautiful of native American shrubs. Its fragrance and the massed richness of its white and pink blossoms so vividly contrast with the darker colors of the forests and the fields that they have continually attracted the attention of travelers since the earliest days of our colonization. First mentioned in John Smith's "General History," in 1624 specimens were sent to Linnaeus, the famous botanist, by the Swedish explorer Peter Kalm in 1750.


 

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