Just was I was on a roll getting this blog going again, I had to go and break my wrist. No more photography for awhile, but I wanted to let you know about this great stand of mountain laurel. Two weeks ago they were budding up, so I expect they’ll be open by now.
The plants are on the Cabin John Trail, roughly midway between Bradley Boulevard and River Road. There’s a trail marker there, at the side trail that goes to Cindy Lane, and the stand starts just to the south of that and goes on for a few tenths of a mile. There must have been thousands of mountain laurels. Not all were in bud, of course, but a lot were, so it should be a good show.
Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) is a medium-sized evergreen shrub in the heath and heather family. Like other ericaceous plants, it prefers acidic soils that are moist and well-drained. It ranges from the Gulf of Mexico coast north all the way to Maine, and westward a little ways past the Appalachian Mountains (further west in the South). In Maryland it can be found in every county.
If you’re exploring this segment of the Cabin John Trail, keep your eyes open for pinxterbloom azaleas (Rhododendron periclymenoides). They grow in the same area as the mountain laurels, mostly along the banks of the creek. I counted at least twenty-one of them blooming on April 27th this year. They’re almost certainly done by now.
One other species of Kalmia is found growing in Maryland: K. angustifolia, or sheep laurel. The Coastal Plain of Maryland is almost as far south as it grows; it’s found more frequently as you go northeast, all the way into Maine and beyond, well into Québec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland (where I took this picture, in 2017).