Learn something new every day
More Info... by email
The mountain laurel is the official state flower of Connecticut, one of the United States’ Eastern states. Mountain laurel is an evergreen flowering shrub that is part of the heath and blueberry family. This shrub was designated as one of the Connecticut state symbols in 1907, following the lobbying efforts of approximately 3000 women. These persuasive Connecticut women furthered their cause by placing a clipping of the handsome and fragrant mountain laurel on the desks of many of the lawmakers, eventually winning their fight to make the mountain laurel the state flower of Connecticut.
Mountain laurel is a shrub that can grow as high as ten to fourteen feet (3.05 to 4.27 m). The elliptical leaves of the mountain laurel are large, thick, and dark green. They resemble a larger version of the bay leaf commonly used in cooking.
The state flower of Connecticut typically blooms between May and June. Mountain laurel flowers are cup-like and are composed of five petals which form a delicate star shaped. The flowers are typically pink, white, or white speckled with pinkish-red dots. During autumn, the flowers of the mountain laurel mature into a cluster of fruit. Each fruit is a dark brown sphere which cracks open into sections when they dry and release seeds.
Mountain laurel bark is grayish to reddish-brown in color. The branches grow in a circuitous manner to produce a meandering, non-symmetric branching pattern. This attribute of the mountain laurel has historically made it a popular choice for woodworkers crafting rustic furniture.
This type of shrub thrives in moist, even slightly swampy areas, or rocky, wooded niches. Mountain laurel is so common along the eastern border of the United States between Northern Florida and Maine that it is also the state flower of Pennsylvania. Mountain laurel also sometimes grows in western parts of the United States.
The scientific name for the state flower of Connecticut is Kalmia latifolia. Some of the other common names for this plant are spoonwood, ivybush, calico bush, sheep laurel, and lamb kill. The name lamb kill comes from this plant’s toxicity to humans, sheep, cows, deer, horses, and goats. Kalmia latifolia does not appear to harm dogs and cats. This poisonous plant was used medicinally by Native Americans as a topical poultice because of its anti-inflammatory properties and to combat the itching from poison ivy.