Mountain Laurel


Well-Known Member
On Saturday I was hiking the Thousand steps and noticed that the Mountain Laurel was just going into bloom. I was always told that mountain laurel was great for deer cover and a survival food for deer. Interestingly, wikipedia states that it's poisonous to deer?
"Kalmia latifolia, or, mountain laurel, aka calico-bush and spoonwood, is a species of flowering plant that is native to the eastern United States and is the state flower of Pennsylvania. Mountain laurel is poisonous to several animals, including horses, goats, cattle, deer, monkeys, and humans, due to grayanotoxin and arbutin."

Our WV mountains are loaded with it. Great cover and habitat but I can’t say that I have ever seen that much browse. My grandma loved it when it would bloom and would always have some at her house around this time of the year.


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Nice picture. I think deer can eat it with no ill effects, but as you said, it would not be a preferred browse. Deer can eat a lot of things that domesticated animals and humans can't.
Never have seen deer browse it but I’ve heard they will. Poisonous to humans I know.
Reading old manuscripts of early explorers is interesting on their struggles getting thru/around “Laurel Brakes”. So thick in the precolonial forests a man could walk on top the thicket.

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I think the reason it’s everywhere is because the deer don’t eat it. Even in very, high deer density areas the Laurel flourishes.
I grew up in PA where it was in abundance. My mom really liked the flowering and tried several times to transplant it from woodlands to our yard. She had no success. I think it has pretty specific requirements.