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Warning – POISONOUS Uses section for information only (typically historical) – I take no responsibility for adverse effects from the use of any plant.
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While there are no direct records for usage of Kalmia procumbens, members of the genus Kalmia are known to be extremely poisonous. Similar plants are known to kill livestock.
Identification and Information
The alpine azalea (Kalmia procumbens) is a mat-forming, evergreen, dwarf shrub that grows up to 10 cm (4 inches) thick. The older stems form a gray bark. The leaves are ovate to oval, opposite, approximately 6 mm (0.25 inches) in length, and appear waxy or glossy with rolled edges. Leaves may have stalks or may attach directly to the stems. The flowers bloom in late spring or summer, are small, white to magenta, and bell-shaped with 5 connate petals and 5 stamens.
Distribution and Habitat
Kalmia procumbens is native to Alaska, most of Canada except Ontario. It can be found in but is considered threatened or endangered in Washington, Maine, New Hampshire, and New York.
The alpine azalea prefers subalpine, rocky, and exposed environments. Mostly in dry to slightly moist subarctic, arctic, and alpine tundra environments. It is often found on mountain slopes and ridges and frequently seen growing alongside lichen.
|Rank||Scientific Name (Common Name)|
|Subkingdom||Viridiplantae (Green plants)|
|Infrakingdom||Streptophyta (Land plants)|
|Division||Tracheophyta (Vascular plants)|
|Class||Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons|
|Family||Ericaceae – Heath family|
|Genus||Kalmia L. – loiseleuria|
|Species||Kalmia procumbens – alpine azalea|
References and Further Reading
Field Guide to Alaskan Wildflowers, Pratt, Verna E. pg 21
Classification and Taxonomy
Loiseleuria procumbens (L.) Desv. alpine azalea, USDA Database (outdated)
Kalmia latifolia – L., Plants for a Future
NAEB Text Search: Search String “kalmia”, Native American Ethnobotany Database
Alpine azalea, Wildflowers of the National Forests in Alaska (USDA)
Kalmia procumbens (L.) Gift, Kron, & P.F. Stevens ex Gala, Native Plant Trust – Go Botany
All online sources accessed March 2021 unless otherwise noted