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Mountain Laurel
Kalmia latifolia

There is a LOT of Mountain Laurel at Middle Way Nature Reserve. And to say that is creates “dense thickets” would be an understatement. I’m not actually sure what’s good about this plant, except it provides cover for wildlife and some pollen for insects. I mean, it does have pretty flowers, so there’s that.

When I read the following about it’s flowers, it then convinced me even more that this plant is kind of … sneaky. So it turns out the flowers have filaments that are bent and held under tension. If a bee touches nearby, it will spring forward and shower the insect with sticky strands of pollen. I mean, NOT COOL flower, not cool. Was that bee asking for that? I don’t think so.

And then if a bee doesn’t visit the flower, eventually all of the filaments will spring as the flower withers and fling the pollen onto the flower’s own stigma, thus pollinating itself anyway.

Sex and masturbation, brought to you by Mountain Laurel flowers.

Size:  7'-15' tall and a spread of 7'-15' 
Family: Ericaceae (Heath Family)
Habitat: Acidic cove forests, heath balds, ubiquitous in mountains.
Identification: Evergreen, many-stemmed, thicket-forming shrub or sometimes a small tree with short, crooked trunk; stout, spreading branches; a compact, rounded crown; and beautiful, large, pink flower clusters. Its flowers are very showy. They are bell-shaped, white to pink with deep rose spots inside, and occur in flat-topped clusters. The leaves are oval, leathery, and glossy, and change from light-green to dark-green to purple throughout the year. From wildflower.org

All text and photos copyright © 2022 Middle Way Nature Reserve, unless noted.
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