Pennsylvania Mountain Laurel - Kalmia latifolia (as-is)  by Gene Walls

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This image has received 647 views as of October 19, 2012

The Mountain Laurel is one of the most beautiful wildflowers I’ve ever seen in the wilds of Pennsylvania’s mountains. The flowers are amazing! They represent spring’s total renewal of life in the mountains of the north eastern United States. The buds start out as a pink enclosed bloom, that looks a bit like a tiny Japanese paper lantern. You can see one of the new pink buds near the center of the shot.

As the bloom matures, it opens up into a mostly white pentagonal shaped flower, with a very unusual pattern of stamen that fan out and make contact with the five point petal. The anthers deposit their maroon pigmented pollen on the petal, creating a really lovely decoration. The base of the pistil is also encircled by a thin maroon ring. I could barely take my eye away from the viewfinder while I was studying the blossoms that I was shooting.

Mountain Laurel is also known as Spoonwood, because the American Indians used the wood from this shrub to make spoons. The scientific name is Kalmia latifolia. It is a flowering plant that is related to the blueberry family, but it looks a lot like a rhododendron bush to me. They are native to the eastern United States and can be found in mountainous regions from “Down East” Maine, all the way south to the panhandle of Florida.

All parts of the shrub, leaves and flowers are poisonous to humans and larger animals. However, the leaves, when crushed into a thick green paste, are extremely effective for the treatment of poison ivy rash. It works far better than Calamine lotion or even Aloe.

Mountain Laurel is the official state flower of Pennsylvania (where this particular specimen was found).

This photo was captured on the evening of June 17th, 2011 at the top of the mountain overlooking Oval, Pennsylvania. I saw the flowers from Route 44 and hiked into the woods to find some undisturbed examples to photograph. The plants near the road were not in perfect condition, they had ugly brown leaf spots, but the flowers up on the stony slope were fresh and perfect.

This photo was captured with a Canon EOS 10D camera with a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 USM prime lens. The shutter speed was at 1/250th second with an aperture of f/5.6. The camera’s ISO was set to 100. A Manfrotto tripod was used with a Manfrotto 222 head.

This image is “Straight From The Camera”, no cropping or adjustments of any kind were applied.

Your comments are always welcome! Constructive criticism is appreciated.

© 2011 Gene Walls

All copyright and reproduction rights are retained by the artist. Artwork may not be reproduced or altered by any process without the express written permission of the artist. A copyright watermark is embedded within the image to guarantee successful prosecution, in the event of any violation.

FEATURED in “The World As We See It…”

FEATURED in “Welcome Pennsylvania”

FEATURED in “Enchanted Flowers”


pennsylvania, mountain laurel, kalmia latifolia, flower, wildflower, nature, wilderness, mountain, blossoms, bud, closeup, spring

Hello, My name is Gene. I live in the Susquehanna river valley (West Branch), in the mountains of north central Pennsylvania. I strive to produce photographic images that are simply “true” to the subject, usually with minimal post processing. If something is beautiful or interesting enough to deserve a viewer’s attention, it justifies being captured just as it is …or as close to reality as possible.

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  • fotoflossy
    fotoflossyabout 3 years ago

    Beatufiul! Fabulous shot!

  • Thanks a bunch, Tammy!

    Kindest regards,


    – Gene Walls

  • Vickie Emms
    Vickie Emmsabout 3 years ago

    This is so gorgeous Gene. Wow what a flower.

  • Thank you very much, Vickie! Your kind words are greatly appreciated!

    Best wishes,


    – Gene Walls

  • AuntieBarbie
    AuntieBarbieabout 3 years ago

    Gorgeous – brilliantly captured.

  • Thank you so much!

    Kindest wishes,


    – Gene Walls

  • Rainy
    Rainyabout 3 years ago

    Very lovely flower and capture Gene!

  • Thank you very much, Rainy! It’s wonderful to hear from you!

    Warmest wishes,


    – Gene Walls

  • AnnDixon
    AnnDixonabout 3 years ago

    BEAUTIFUL work,

  • Thank you very kindly, Ann!

    Best regards,


    – Gene Walls

  • Ray Clarke
    Ray Clarkeabout 3 years ago

  • Thank you, Ray!


    – Gene Walls

  • Cabisha
    Cabishaabout 3 years ago

    Amazing…..I never saw this gorgeous flower before. Great capture !!
    and def. a FAV !!

  • Thank you very much, Cabisha! These wildflowers usually grow on steep hillsides, only in the eastern States. They are often found in places that are hard to reach. That’s why many people don’t get to see them up close.

    Thank you very much for the “FAV”!

    Kindest regards,


    – Gene Walls

  • John Holding
    John Holdingabout 3 years ago

  • My pleasure, John! Thank you!


    – Gene Walls

  • Raider6569
    Raider6569about 3 years ago

    Lovely visual and written insight on one of nature’s notable flowers. Dramatic detail included. Great work Gene.

  • Thanks, Dave! I had the wrong boots on yesterday …and almost slid half way down the mountainside. Had to get the shot, though.The whole slope was just covered with these beauties.

    Kindest regards,


    – Gene Walls

  • Jan Siemucha
    Jan Siemuchaabout 3 years ago

    Pretty little flowers, great macro !
    Congrats on the feature.

  • Thank you very kindly, Jan! I really appreciate the “congrats”!

    Best wishes,


    – Gene Walls

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