USA Official State Flower Official Pennsylvania State Flower


Mountain Laurel

(Kalmia latifolia)
Adopted on May 5, 1933.


The Mountain Laurel, Kalmia latifolia, is the state flower, as enacted by the General Assembly on May 5, 1933.


The mountain laurel is in full bloom in mid-June, when Pennsylvania's woodlands are filled with its distinctive pink flower, a sight which delighted members of the Pennsylvania House and Senate as well as the wife of Pennsylvania governor Gifford Pinchot. Together, they prevailed over Pinchot's preference for the azalea to name the Mountain Laurel as the official state flower.



Linnaeus gave it the name of Kalmia latifolia, honoring the name his correspondent and at the same time describing the "wide-leafed" characteristic of the plant. In addition to being called the "Mountain Laurel," the plant has also been spoken of as "Calico Bush" and "Spoonwood."


Mountain Laurel is ideally suited as a landscape accent, informal hedge or border where its flowers can be enjoyed. It is best for natural landscapes and other low-maintenance gardens where it can be allowed to grow to its natural size. Grows 4-6" per year.


  • Leaf: Alternate, simple, evergreen, shiny/waxy above, light green below, 2 to 5 inches long, elliptical in shape, mid-vein raised on upper surfaces.
  • Flower: Very showy clusters, white to rose colored with purple markings, 1 inch across, with the petals forming a distinct firm bowl about the pistil and stamens. Present March to July.
  • Fruit: A round, brown dehiscent capsule, 1/4 inch long, splitting into 5 valves when dry; releasing very small seeds. Maturing in September and October.
  • Twig: Generally forked and twisted, green when young, later brownish-red.
  • Bark: Thin, dark brown to red in color, shredding.
  • Form: A small tree or shrub with many twisted stems.
Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom Plantae -- Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta -- Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta -- Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta -- Flowering plants
Class Magnoliopsida -- Dicotyledons
Subclass Dilleniidae –
Order Ericales –
Family Ericaceae – Heath family
Genus Kalmia L. – laurel
Species Kalmia latifolia L. – mountain laurel