Sheep Laurel (Kalmia angustifolia)

Sheep Laurel (Kalmia angustifolia)

Sheep Laurel (Kalmia angustifolia) is one of my favorites. The blooms in this photo are about the same diameter as a dime. It’s in the same genus as the better-known Mountain Laurel (K. latifolia), but I have to climb a mountain to see that. K. angustifolia grows on my property, though the specimens here seem bloom-resistant. This one grows at the base of a huge white pine at Sandogardy Pond. Beth and I took Penny down there this evening.

Kalmia is the only genus in my personal list of flowering plants that starts with K. Another name for Sheep Laurel is Lambkill, and you can probably guess where it came by that moniker.

After spending a lot of time learning the binomial names of plants, I eventually started to recognize a little Latin. There are a lot of plant genera with an angustifolia and a latifolia species. The former means “narrow leaves” and the latter means “wide leaves.”

In addition to Kalmia (the Laurels), the genera Typha (cattails) and Elaeagnus (autumn olive) also have angustifolias and latifolias. There are probably hundreds of others.