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Kalmia polifolia

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Plant Profile

Flowering Months:
Ericaceae (Heath)
Evergreen shrub
Life Cycle:
Maximum Size:
1 metre tall
Bogs, heathland, moorland.

Pink, 5 petals
Flowers are cup-shaped and live together in clusters of up to 13. Each flower measures from 10 to 16mm in diameter. Flowers have 10 white stamens, each with a dark tip. Pollinated by bees.
The fruit is a capsule. The seeds ripen in September.
A perennial shrub with oblong to oval leaves, up to 1 inch (2.5cm) long. The waxy leaves are in opposite pairs along the stems and have inrolled margins. The undersides of the leaves are whitish. The branches are 2-edged. Can be found as a garden escape.
Other Names:
Bog Laurel, Pale Laurel, Swamp Laurel, Swamp Laurel.
Frequency (UK):
Rarely seen  

Similar Species

Other Information


Kalmia polifolia, also known as bog laurel or swamp laurel, is a perennial flowering plant that is native to North America. It is a member of the Ericaceae family and is closely related to other members of the Kalmia genus, such as mountain laurel and sheep laurel. The plant is known for its clusters of small, pink or white flowers that are borne on short, branching stalks above the foliage. It has leathery, dark green leaves and grows to be about 1-2 feet tall. K. polifolia is a popular garden plant and is often used in wetland or bog gardens. It is a hardy plant that is easy to grow and is tolerant of a wide range of soil types, but it prefers moist, well-drained soils and full sun to partial shade. The plant is attractive to pollinators and is a popular nectar source for bees, butterflies, and other insects. It is also used medicinally in some traditional cultures and has been used to treat a variety of ailments, including respiratory problems and skin irritation.


Bog-laurel (Kalmia polifolia) is a native North American shrub that is well-known for its hardiness and versatility. This plant is well-suited to gardens in USDA hardiness zones 3 to 7 and is often found growing in the wild in wetlands and bogs. The leaves of the Bog-laurel are dark green and glossy, and its clusters of small, pink, bell-shaped flowers are both fragrant and beautiful.

One of the key features of Bog-laurel is its hardiness. It is not fussy about soil type, preferring moist, acid soils that are well-drained. This shrub can tolerate partial shade, making it an ideal choice for those gardens that receive dappled sunlight. It is also highly resistant to pests and diseases, making it a low-maintenance plant that is perfect for those gardeners who are looking for an attractive and easy-to-grow shrub.

In addition to its hardiness, Bog-laurel is also versatile. This shrub can be used as a standalone specimen plant, or it can be grown in groupings for a more dramatic effect. It is also a popular choice for hedgerows and woodland gardens, where its attractive foliage and flowers can be appreciated throughout the growing season.

Bog-laurel is also an excellent choice for gardeners who are looking for a plant that is well-suited to wildlife. This shrub is a great source of food and shelter for a variety of wildlife, including birds, insects, and small mammals. It also provides a valuable source of nectar for pollinators, such as bees and butterflies.

In terms of care, Bog-laurel is relatively easy to maintain. This shrub does not require pruning, but it may be trimmed after flowering to control its size. It also does not require frequent watering, but it should be watered during prolonged periods of drought.

Overall, Bog-laurel is an excellent choice for gardeners who are looking for a hardy and versatile shrub. With its attractive foliage and flowers, it provides a beautiful addition to any garden, and its low-maintenance requirements make it the perfect choice for busy gardeners. So, if you're looking for a shrub that will bring beauty and benefits to your garden, be sure to consider Bog-laurel.

Another great feature of Bog-laurel is its ability to attract pollinators and other beneficial insects. Its delicate pink flowers produce nectar that attracts bees, butterflies, and other pollinators. These insects play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem by pollinating plants and helping to control pests. The shrub's attractive foliage also provides a source of food for caterpillars and other insects, which in turn become food for birds and other wildlife.

Bog-laurel is also a great choice for gardeners who are looking for a plant that is easy to propagate. This shrub can be easily propagated from stem cuttings, which can be taken in the spring or summer and rooted in a mixture of sand and peat moss. This makes it an economical option for gardeners who want to create large groupings of this shrub in their gardens.

In terms of aesthetics, Bog-laurel's attractive foliage and delicate flowers make it an attractive addition to any garden. Its glossy, dark green leaves provide a rich contrast to other foliage, while its clusters of pink flowers add a delicate touch of color. The shrub's compact size, which typically reaches 3 to 5 feet tall and wide, also makes it an excellent choice for smaller gardens or for use as a border plant.

Finally, it is worth mentioning that Bog-laurel is highly valued for its medicinal properties. Native Americans used the leaves and bark of this shrub for a variety of ailments, including respiratory issues and skin problems. Today, the plant is still used for these purposes and is often included in herbal remedies and tinctures.

In terms of landscape design, Bog-laurel can be used in a variety of ways to enhance the beauty of your garden. For example, it can be planted as a specimen plant in a damp, shady corner of your yard. Its glossy foliage and delicate pink flowers will create a focal point, drawing the eye and adding interest to this often-neglected area of the garden.

Bog-laurel can also be used as a ground cover in wet or shady areas. Its dense, low-growing habit will help to prevent erosion, and its attractive foliage and flowers will add interest to the ground level of your garden. Additionally, its ability to tolerate wet soils makes it an excellent choice for planting along streams, ponds, or other bodies of water.

If you're looking for a plant to use as a border or in a mass planting, Bog-laurel is a great choice. Its compact size, attractive foliage, and delicate pink flowers will provide a beautiful and low-maintenance border that will complement other plants in your garden. Mass plantings of Bog-laurel can also help to create a naturalistic look in your garden, giving it a sense of wildness and authenticity.

Finally, Bog-laurel is a great choice for container gardening. Its compact size and attractive foliage and flowers make it a perfect candidate for use in pots, window boxes, or other containers. This is especially useful for gardeners who have limited garden space or who live in apartments or other urban areas. Container-grown Bog-laurel can be moved around your garden to different locations, depending on the light conditions and your needs.

In conclusion, Bog-laurel is a versatile and attractive shrub that can be used in a variety of ways to enhance the beauty of your garden. Its hardiness, low-maintenance requirements, and ability to attract pollinators make it an excellent choice for any gardener, and its attractive foliage and flowers will provide a beautiful addition to your garden throughout the growing season.

Distribution Map

Reproduced by kind permission of the BSBI.

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