Sheep Laurel (Kalmia augustifolia)

Sheep Laurel (Kalmia augustifolia) 

Sheep Laurel (Kalmia augustifolia); also called Lambkill, Sheepkill, Calfkill, Dwarf-laurel and Wicky; is an evergreen shrub of the Heath (Ericaceae) Family and order Ericales. This shrub can be as tall as three feet (90 centimeters). The showy flowers are pink, up to ½ inch (1.3 centimeters) wide and arranged in dense clusters around the stem. Each flower has five petals, one pistil and ten stamens.  The pistil extends out from the center of the flower beyond the petals. The anthers of each stamen are tucked in the petals and will pop out if disturbed. This plant flowers from May to August.

Sheep Laurel Detail

The leaves are in whorls of three elliptical or broadly lance-shaped leaves. Each leaf is up to two inches (five centimeters) long. The top of a leaf is green and the bottom is a paler green. The leaves tend to become a darker green at the end of summer and into winter.

The fruit is a round capsule, as shown in the photograph below, containing a brown, oblong seed.

Fruit of the Sheep Laurel

The root system is rhizomic.

This shrub is poisonous to livestock giving rise to the alternative names of Lambkill, Sheepkill and Calfkill. It resembles a dwarf Mountain Laurel yielding the name, Dwarf-laurel.

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