Kalmia latifolia

 

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Family: Ericaceae

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Mountain Laurel

 

 

 

The genus Kalmia contains about 7 species native to North America. Mountain Laurel is the only species that attains tree size, the other six are shrubs. The genus Kalmia was dedicated by Linnaeus to his student Peter Kalm (1716-1779), Swedish botanist who traveled and collected in Canada and eastern United States.

Kalmia latifolia-American Briar, American Laurel, Big Leaved Ivy, Burl Laurel, Calico Bush, Calico-flower, Calico-tree, Ivy, Ivy Bush, Ivy Leaf Laurel, Ivywood, Kalmia, Lambkill, Laurel, Laurelwood, Mountain, Mountain Ivy, Pale Laurel, Poison Ivy, Poison Laurel, Root Laurel, Sheep Laurel, Small Laurel, Spoonwood, Wicky

 

Distribution

Southeast Maine west to New York, Ohio and southern Indiana south to western Tennessee, eastern Mississippi and southeast Louisiana east to northern Florida and Georgia.

The Tree

Mountain Laurel is a large shrub, occasionally reaching tree size (reaching 40 feet tall & 2 feet in diameter) in the eastern US. The leaves, buds, flowers and fruits are poisonous to humans and cattle, but not to indigenous wildlife such as deer. It has leathery, evergreen leaves and very showy flower clusters, making it a favorite plant for ornamental purposes. It prefers acid soils from lowlands to 4,000 feet elevations. It grows in association with oaks, tulip poplar, beech, sugar maple, white pine and sourwood.

The Wood

General

The wood of Mountain Laurel is heavy, hard, strong but rather brittle, with a close, straight grain. It has a light yellow sapwood and a yellow brown heartwood, spotted with red.

 

 

 

Mechanical Propertiesa,b (2-inch standard)

 

 

 

 

Compression

 

 

 

 

Specific

gravity

MOE

x106 lbf/in2

MOR

lbf/in2

Parallel

lbf/in2

Perpendicular

lbf/in2

WMLa

in-lbf/in3

Hardness

lbf

Shear

lbf/in2

Green

0.62

0.92

8,400

4,310

1,110

12.5

1,300

1,670

Dry

0.68

1.20

11,100

5,920

1,820

10.3

1,790

aWML = Work to maximum load.

bReference (59).

 

 

Drying and Shrinkagea,b

Type of shrinkage

Percentage of shrinkage
(green to final moisture content)

0% MC

6% MC

20% MC

Tangential

8.0

Radial

5.6

Volumetric

14.4

aMountain laurel will dry well if debarked and split.

bReference (59)

Working Properties: Works well with carving tools or lathe.

Durability: No information available at this time.

Preservation: No information available at this time.

Uses: Substitute wood for briar pipes, small objects & novelties, tool handles, woodenware, fuel.

Toxicity: No information available at this time.

 

Additional Reading and References Cited (in parentheses)

29. Elias, T.S. 1980. The complete trees of North America, field guide and natural history. ?Van Nostrand Reinhold Co., New York, 948 pp.

55. Little, Jr., E.L.1979. Checklist of United States trees (native and naturalized). USDA ?Forest Service, Ag. Handbook No. 541, USGPO, Washington, DC.

59. Markwardt, L.J. and T.R.C. Wilson. 1935. Strength and related properties of woods ?grown in the United States. USDA Forest Service, Tech. Bull. No. 479. USGPO, ?Washington, DC.

68. Panshin, A.J. and C. de Zeeuw. 1980. Textbook of Wood Technology, 4th Ed., ?McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 722 pp.

74. Record, S.J. and R.W. Hess. 1943. Timbers of the new world. Yale University Press, ?New Haven, 640 pp.

90. Summitt, R. and A. Sliker. 1980. CRC handbook of materials science. Volume 4, ?wood. ?CRC Press, Inc., Boca Raton, FL. 459 pp.