Trees With Flowers Or Fruits - The Mountain Laurel
( Originally Published 1927 )
The mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia, Linn.) grows from Nova Scotia to Lake Erie and southward through New England and New York, and along the Alleghanies to northern Georgia. Hardier than the rhododendrons, smaller in blossoms and in foliage, the laurel is in many points its superior in beauty. In June and July the polished evergreen foliage of the kalmia bushes is almost overwhelmed by the masses of its exquisite pink blossoms, be-side which the bloom of rhododendrons looks coarse and crude in coloring. Coral-red fluted buds with pointed tips show the richest color, making with the yellow-green of the new leaves one of the most exquisite color combinations in any spring shrubbery. The largest buds open first, spreading into wide five-lobed corollas, with two pockets in the base of each forming a circle of ten pockets. Ten stamens stand about the free central pistil, and the anther of each is hid in a pocket of the corolla—the slender filament bent backward. This is a curious contrivance for insuring cross-fertilization through the help of the bees. (See "Flowers Worth Knowing.")
Linnaeus commemorated in the name of this genus the devoted and arduous labors of Peter Kalm, the Swedish botanist, who sent back to his master at the university of Upsala specimens of the wonderful and varied flora found in his travels in eastern North America. Most of the names accredited to Linnaeus were given to plants he never saw except as dried herbarium specimens from the New World.