Kalmia microphylla var. microphylla

A day-trip to collect specimens for a couple research projects earlier this week yielded an opportunity to photograph these small western alpine laurels. Growing at an elevation of 1920m (6300 ft), these diminutive plants (10cm / 4in) are referable to the broadly distributed Kalmia microphylla var. microphylla of western and northern North America. A second variety is recognized by the Flora of North America, Kalmia microphylla var. occidentalis, which tends to be both taller (sometimes to 80cm) and distributed only from Alaska to Oregon at lower elevations. Anatomically, leaf blade shape and dimensions are also used to distinguish the two varieties, with variety microphylla having shorter, stouter leaves.

According to Flora of North America, flower colour is “rose-purple, rarely white”, so I was fortunate to find one of the white-flowered plants. Only one small section, perhaps 0.5m2, of the entire local population of these plants was white, so it is possible that the white-flowered individuals were growing clonally.

The US Forest Service’s Celebrating Wildflowers site has an excellent account of Kalmia microphylla, and more photographs are available via CalPhotos: Kalmia microphylla.

Kalmia microphylla var. microphylla
Kalmia microphylla var. microphylla
Kalmia microphylla var. microphylla

6 responses to “Kalmia microphylla var. microphylla”

  1. lois anderson

    hello,great pictures.i live in penna,i also have a house in Kaslo,b.c.love to go up to see the meadow spring flowers in Sandon.

  2. sheldon glass

    I am new to this forum and absolutely love it.I’m in South Florida and you have given me the opportunity to see beauty that is really a delight.

  3. Trisha in Texas

    I know it’s the flower shape and the placement of the dark stamen tips against the pink color, but they remind me of Kalmia latifolia, Mountain Laurel. They are so pretty.

  4. ajith

    nice photos

  5. sue

    Lovely pictures, did not know that there is white ones. We acquired a
    Kalmia from a place in Clearbrook outside of Langley that was doing
    cloning of leaves of Azaleas, Rhodo’s it was all experimental but they were quite successful a nursery of some kind this was at least 25yrs.
    ago. They were also working with Kalmia. So we bought one, this was
    the plant with the “rose purple” flowers, beautiful. Thanks for the
    photos brings back good memories.

  6. elizabeth a airhart

    there is always a flower in bloom somewhere come to this page
    no matter what time of the year you will find flowers in bloom
    lovely sweet bloom as muir said the grand show is eternal
    i live west central coast of florida thank you daniel one of your best

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