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Bog laurel (K. microphylla) is a low shrub mostly less than 8 inches tall with opposite leaves and deep pink flowers arranged in a small umbel at the tips of larger stems. It is easily recognized by the unusual flowers. Like many heaths, the petals are fused into a shallow, 5-lobed bowl. The surface of the bowl is interrupted by ten pocket-like indentations. As the flower bud matures, the expanding stamens thrust their pollen-bearing anther heads into these pockets. When the flower is fully open, the anthers are held under spring-like tension until a large-bodied insect (like a bumblebee) triggers the stamen and is showered by pollen. The bee will carry this pollen lode to the next Kalmia flower it visits (perhaps being showered yet again) and deposit some on the stigma to bring about cross-pollination. Inquisitive humans can also spring the stamens.
As its common name suggests, it is frequent in boggy habitats, but can also occur along lakeshores, streams, and wet mountain meadows. Bog laurel ranges from Alaska to Ontario and south to California, Utah, and Colorado. This plant was seen in High Sierra alpine in Ansel Adams Wilderness.
Lat: 37.69, Long: -119.20
Spotted on Aug 20, 2011
Submitted on Jan 14, 2012
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