Mountain Laurel (Kalmia latifola L.)

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This page contains information regarding a plant "known to be poisonous" to goats as well as other animals. This information was researched from various resources. Please note, that the author is not a botanist or specialist regarding plants. This information is posted for your reference and comparison purposes only.

Mountain Laurel - Click for a full size image Mountain Laurel - Click for a full size image

Calico Bush, Southern Mountain Laurel, American-Laurel, Wood-Laurel, Small-laurel, Poison Laurel, Leaf-Laurel, Kalmia, Broad-Leaf Kalmia, Clamoun, Ivybush, Big-leaf Ivy, Spoonhunt, Spoonwood.

Glycosides Containing Plant - Mountain-laurel is a broad-leaved evergreen shrub that is 10 to 30 feet (3-9 m) tall at maturity. The crooked, irregular branches are characteristically contorted, forming dense thickets. The shiny evergreen leaves are simple, alternate, and mostly crowded at the branch tips. The flowers are borne in panicled corymbs at the ends of leafy branchlets. The fruit is an oblong capsule, 0.5 to 1 inch (1.2-2.5 cm) long. The bark is reddish brown to dark gray, and thin. Mountain laurel is sometimes confused with Labrador tea (Ledum spp.).

All parts are poisonous and can be fatal to both humans and animals.


In order for toxic signs to manifest, 0.2% by weight of green leaves needs to be ingested. Gastroenteric signs develop first, generally within 6 hours of ingestion, including salivating, vomiting (in capable species), diarrhea, abdominal pain, and tremors. Disturbances in cardiac rate and rhythm may then be noted. If sufficient quantites were consumed, convulsions may occur, followed by coma and death. Not all affected animals will die, and livestock may recover without treatment, depending upon amount ingested.

Moderate. Mountain-laurel is considered toxic to most livestock. Kingsbury lists the following percentage of lethal doses of mountain-laurel leaves to animal body weight. goats > 0.4%. The foliage of mountain-laurel is a winter forage for white-tailed deer but it may be toxic if deer are forced to rely on it exclusively or forage on it in large quantities.

All animals may be affected. It has been suggested that deer are possibly unaffected by Mountain Laurel; either because Mountain Laurel is considered unpalatable or because of the ability of a deer to digest and pass toxins with no side effects.

Stomach irritation, abdominal pain, abnormal heart rate and rhythm, convulsions, coma, death.

Prevent further ingestion and provide supportive care. Veterinary attention is needed if ingestion was recent, or if clinical signs are present.

These plants are not safe in hay nor in any other prepared feed.

Animals should not be allowed to graze these plants. Keep hungry livestock away from areas where these plants grow. Pets may nibble or taste the leaves out of curiosity or boredom, and this is not advised, but seldom leads to clinical toxicosis. Honey made from the nectar of these flowers is also toxic and should not be consumed, so exercise caution when placing beehives.

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