The Mountain Laurel (Kalmia Latifolia) holds the distinct honor of being
Pennsylvania’s state flower. It was enacted by general assembly on March 5,
1933. It is actually an evergreen shrub. This means it does not shed leaves.
Thus, you will be able to enjoy this Pennsylvania indigenous flower’s foliage,
even during winter!
This Pennsylvania indigenous flower comes as a shrub. It can grow up to a height
of 9 meters, making some varieties more “tree” than “shrub”. The plants can be
found scattered on mountainous forest areas. You can identify this Pennsylvania
indigenous flower by its very distinctive star-shaped blossoms. They are usually
evident during the months of April to June, when they bloom.
The plant was first cultivated as an ornamental shrub. Even today, it still has
the same use. This is mainly because of its evergreen nature and the beauty of
its blossoms. Its bark is tinged with dark red, as is the wood. This makes it a
handsome wood for crafting. In fact, one of its little-known uses was for the
making of wood-clocks in the past. Actually, this Pennsylvania indigenous flower
is not only the state flower of Pennsylvania; it occupies the same station in
the state of Connecticut.
A word of caution: all parts of this indigenous flower of Pennsylvania are
poisonous. That means you cannot eat any part of it. How toxic is it? Well, one
might take a lesson from the insect world. Did you know that moths will only
accept it as a food source if there’s truly nothing else they can eat? Did you
also know that, when bees make honey using materials derived from the Mountain
Laurel, the resulting honey is toxic? These are just some indications about just
how toxic the plant can be.
What about humans? Well, if you manage to ingest a part of the plant, you will
first begin to feel the effects after 6 hours. This is because it will require
that long to be fully digested. When the six hours are up, you will begin to
feel symptoms such as profuse salivation, repeated swallowing, disorientation,
vomiting, difficulty breathing and others. You will also experience anorexia,
which basically means that you won’t have the appetite to eat anything. You will
then experience cardiac distress; eventually leading to coma and death. The same
thing happens to animals when they ingest any part of this indigenous flower
from Pennsylvania. Because of this, Mountain Laurel is sometimes also known as
However, it still does have its use as an ornamental plant. Many people have
cultivated various varieties in order to produce more beautiful flowers. Seeing
the Mountain Laurel in full bloom will certainly take your breath away and make
you truly appreciate this Pennsylvania indigenous flower.
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