Herbs & Plants

Kalmia polifolia

Botanical Name: Kalmia polifolia
Family: Ericaceae
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ericales
Genus: Kalmia
Species: K. polifolia

*Chamaedaphne glauca
*Kalmia glauca

Common Names: Kalmia glauca, Bog laurel, Swamp laurel, Pale laurel,

Habitat: Kalmia polifolia is native to north-eastern North America, from Newfoundland to Hudson Bay southwards. It grows on cold peat bogs and other wet places.

Kalmia polifolia is an evergreen Shrub growing to 0.5 m (1ft 8in) by 0.5 m (1ft 8in). Its leaves are arranged oppositely upon its branch and grow to be an inch to an inch and a half in length and tend to be waxy with an entire and revolute margin. Below each leaf base there are ridges, where it appears as though a part of the leaf is curled around the circumference of the stem. This is especially noticeable lower on the plant.The base of the petiole is pressed against the stem as its flowers cluster in a single terminal bunch, which appears to be pink or purple in colour; the near cup-shaped flower spans about three-eighths of an inch in diameter.

It is in leaf all year, in flower in April, and the seeds ripen in September.
These seeds are five-parted, round, and woody
. The species is hermaphrodite (has both male and female organs) and is pollinated by Bees.


Requires an acid humus-rich soil, succeeding in part shade or in full sun in cooler areas. Prefers almost full sun. Dislikes dry soils, requiring cool, permanently moist conditions at the roots. Succeeds in open woodland or along the woodland edge. A very cold-hardy plant, tolerating temperatures down to about -30°c. A very ornamental plant, there are some named varieties. Pruning is not normally necessary

Edible Uses: While caribou do not have specialized food habits, they can eat most plants – preferring fungi, green leaves of deciduous shrubs, and new spring growth of sedges. They often eat Kalmia polifolia in the spring and summer; the plant comprises 11% of their dietary dry-matter protein.

Medicinal Uses:
Kalmia polifolia is a very poisonous narcotic plant the leaves of which were at one time used by some native North American Indian tribes in order to commit suicide. It is little, it at all, used in modern herbalism though the leaves are a good external treatment for many skin diseases and inflammation. The leaves are astringent and sedative. They are used externally to make a poultice or a wash in the treatment of many skin diseases, open sores, wounds that will not heal and inflammation. Used internally, the leaves have a splendid effect in the treatment of active haemorrhages, diarrhoea and flux. They should be used with great caution however, and only under the supervision of a qualified practitioner. See the notes above on toxicity.

Kalmia polifolia can be used topically for skin wounds, disease, and inflammation, while internal uses may address bleeding and diarrhoea.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.

Known Hazards: The foliage is poisonous to animals. The whole plant is highly toxic


Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.