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Bog Laurel

Kalmia microphylla


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.

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SarahWhitt 8 years ago

Gordon....unfortunately, moreoften than I care to mention!! ;)

Gordon Dietzman
Gordon Dietzman 8 years ago

Heather, You're quite welcome.
Sarah, I'm glad others do this as well; coffee helps...grin.

HeatherLaineKranz 8 years ago

Gordon, thank you so much for the insight as to the identification of the flower. I think you are absolutely correct. I did some more research and I think we have it! Thanks, again :) I will now update the info of the photo...

SarahWhitt 8 years ago

hahaha!! I just realized that I needed to address Heather on this photo! Oooopsy!!! Great photo, Heather!!
I must need another cup of coffee! ;)

SarahWhitt 8 years ago

What a pretty flower, Gordon. It so closely resembles the flower of the Mountain Laurel (with the quilted stitched pattern). I searched your suggestion of "bog laurel" and have to agree with you.
Will also have to "favorite" it as well!! :)

Gordon Dietzman
Gordon Dietzman 8 years ago

This is probably bog laurel (Kalmia polifolia). See for more information. I'll be curious to see if you'd agree. I've not been to this part of California, but I've seen it while hiking in other western US states.

Spotted by

California, USA

Spotted on Aug 20, 2011
Submitted on Jan 14, 2012

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