Bog Laurel – Kalmia Microphylla
Bog laurel, also known as swamp laurel, is a short shrub with oppositely arranged, leathery, glossy leaves. Its stems stand erect, and its small, pink flowers are found in clusters. The fruit are woody capsules that have long stems on them. These beautiful plants prefer acidic soils and are found in cold bogs which is one of the reasons they are found in Shadow Lake Bog. Bog laurel can be found in parts of Alaska and as far east as Ontario to as south as California. It can also be found in Utah and Colorado.
Although lovely to look at, all parts of bog laurel are highly toxic and can lead to vomiting, dizziness, and can be fatal. However, bog laurel has been used externally as a poultice to treat inflammation. Its lookalike, Labrador tea (Ledum groenlandicum), is also found in Shadow Lake Bog, but Labrador tea’s leaves are dull and have fuzzy undersides. When in bloom, Labrador tea’s leaves are white instead of pink. Unlike bog laurel, Labrador tea can be consumed. The leaves are known to be used to make tea and were once used in beer making to make it heady.