Mountain Laurel
SPECIAL OFFER: - Limited Time Only!
(The ad below will not display on your printed page)

Free Year + Free Gift! Order NOW and get 1 FREE YEAR of Wood® Magazine! PLUS you'll get our Great Projects for Your Shop guide instantly! That's 2 full years (14 issues) for the 1-year-rate – just $28.00. This is a limited-time offer, so HURRY!
(U.S. orders only) (Click here for Canadian orders)


First Name:

Last Name:





100% Money-Back Guarantee: You must be pleased, or you may cancel any time during the life of your subscription and receive a refund on any unserved issues – no questions asked. Wood® Magazine is currently published 7 times annually – subject to change without notice. Double issues may be published, which count as 2 issues. Applicable sales tax will be added. E-mail address required to access your account and member benefits online. We will not share your e-mail address with anyone. Click here to view our privacy policy.
Wood Magazine

Mountain Laurel

Wood Anecdote

Mountain Laurel

Mountain Laurel

Along America's eastern seaboard, from Maine to Florida and inland into the Appalachians, grows a splendidly blooming small tree called the mountain laurel, Kalmia latifolia. In spring, it's large, umbrella-shaped blossoms put those of the redbud and even the beautiful dogwood to shame.

Yet, to the local people that know it well, the mountain laurel has earned far-from-flattering names. They call it poison laurel, sheep laurel, and ivywood. That's because honey made from the mountain laurel's nectar has a nauseating smell, sharp taste, and indeed can make one ill with cramps and vomiting. For that reason, it has long been a practice of beekeepers to throw out the honey that comes from mountain laurel's blossoms and await sweeter stuff. Even the tree's leaves have a poisonous effect, often causing paralysis in animals that eat them, especially foolhardy spring lambs.

And because the mountin laurel never gets really large -- perhaps 30' tall in favorable red-clay soil -- its wood has never attained commercial importance, except in one small way. It seems that up until the 1960s, when man-made materials became widely used, the mountin laurel furnished root burls that could be substituted for expensive imported briar in the making of smoking-pipe bowls. The wood of these burls was far heavier, harder, and denser than that in the tree above ground, making it slow to burn from smouldering tobacco. Although laurel briar was said to be inferior to the imported variety, the production of pipes from it fostered a sizeable industry in the mountain communities of western North Carolina.



Wood Magazine