It prefers cool, humid climates and is often found near streams and waterfalls. It grows in sunny meadows and shady forests and is often found on southern-facing slopes or ridges. We may receive a commission for purchases made through these at no cost to you. Depending on the species, blooms may be white, pale pink, lavender or deep rose. This one isn’t blooming yet-and notice the leaves are longer, thinner, and a brighter green. Its oblong-shaped leaves are narrow at the base, wide in the middle and rounded at the end. Mountain laurel is more adaptable than rhododendron. Although similar in appearance, mountain laurel and rhododendron do have some distinguishing differences. Mountain laurel has petals that are fused together to form the flowers that - completely unscientifically put - look a bit like a margarita glass. Mountain laurel has elliptical-shaped leaves with pointed tips. Classification Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) and rhododendron are both members of the heath family (Ericaceae.) The underside of the leaf is pale green or rusty brown. Mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) and rhododendron are both members of the heath family (Ericaceae.) The flower petals are fused together to form small cups, about a half inch to an inch wide. The real name for this one-is Rhododendron. But this is what we call Mountain Laurel or in most cases just Laurel-see the difference from the first photo? Video showing the difference between leaves—Offers a quick trick to remember the difference: “How to tell these evergreen plants apart?“—How to tell them apart when the plants aren’t in bloom; leaf differences, Copyright © 2020 | site by OPAQUE DESIGN LLC, njHiking.com | facebook.com/njhiking | twitter.com/njhiking | instagram.com/njhiking | youtube.com/njhiking, Bearfort Mountain – State Line/Ernest Walker Trail, Video showing the difference between leaves. In cold weather or times of drought, rhododendron’s leaves roll up into tight cylinders. Often mistaken for one another, mountain laurel and rhododendron are flowering, evergreen shrubs that share more similarities than differences. Which means this is not mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia). May 15, 2020 / Other / Mountain Laurel, Rhododendron. Mountain laurel is fairly drought-resistant and tolerates dry, rocky, infertile soil. Though somewhat similar in appearance and with overlapping bloom times, there are a few key distinguishing features: Mountain laurel. Leaves are glossy yellow-green to dark green and generally smaller than rhododendron’s, about 2 to 5 inches long. Williams holds a Bachelor of Arts in English from Kennesaw State University. For example, rose bay rhododendron or great laurel (Rhododendron maximum) commonly grows from Nova Scotia to Alabama. Rhododendrons are of the genus Rhododendron, while mountain laurels are of the genus Kalmia. Rhododendron generally has a wider range than mountain laurel and can be found throughout much of North America, depending on the species. Sometimes called calico bush, mountain laurel is one of about seven species in the genus Kalmia. The five petals and thick dark leaves in whirls / clusters show that you have a member of the rhododendron family. Evergreens That Can Grow in the Shade Outside, The Leaves of My Otto Luyken Laurel Are Turning Brown, United States Forestry Service: Species: Kalmia latifolia, United States Forestry Service: Species: Rhododendron maximum, United States Forestry Service: Species: Rhododendron macrophyllum, The Rhode Island Wild Plant Society: Cultivation Notes – Mountain Laurel. Both grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 9. Mountain laurel is evergreen, with pointed oval leaves, while rhododendron's leathery round-tipped leaves curl up like cigars in sub-freezing temperatures. Based in the Atlanta area, Charlene Williams has been writing and editing since 1988. The name “rhododendron” defines both a genus and species and is also the common name of a particular type of shrub. Though somewhat similar in appearance and with overlapping bloom times, there are a few key distinguishing features: A few hikes with abundant mountain laurel and/or rhododendron in New Jersey: A Day in the Smokies | “Mountain Laurel or Rhododendron?“—Photos and description; some info specific to the Smoky Mountains. Blooms: May to June (later at higher altitudes) Some huckleberries are Vaccinium while some are of the genus Gaylussacia. A laurel flower resembles a tiny cup or bowl with five points or minuscule lobes. Double Pond trail from the beach parking lot. Rhododendron prefers full to part shade and often grows in areas with northern exposures. Fruits, which appear after the flowers fade, are round, green capsules that ripen to brown and split open in the fall. Rhododendron produces larger, oblong-shaped seed capsules that split open in October. Native to the eastern United States, mountain laurel is generally found in the Appalachian Mountains, from Maine to the Florida panhandle and westward to Louisiana. The genus Rhododendron is much larger, containing hundreds of species, including azaleas and rhododendrons. (Not an azalea, though, because I can see more than five stamens.) Rhododendron typically grows in dense woods and mountain slopes and requires moist, acidic soil. Flowers are about 1.5 inches wide. Small mountain laurel flower buds look crimped, while rhododendron buds are plump and pointed. Pacific rhododendron (Rhododendron macrophyllum) grows in the Pacific Northwest, from British Columbia to California. She has worked as a freelance writer for the past five years, and is a contributing writer for eHow and Answerbag. Mountain laurel and rhododendron add beauty to any hike when in bloom, and the dense “tunnels” they often create are especially interesting to hike through. Mountain laurels are native and naturally exclusive to the forests of the eastern US, while rhododendron account for some 1,000 different species of flora native throughout the northern hemisphere. How to tell these evergreen plants apart? Mountain laurel and rhododendron add beauty to any hike when in bloom, and the dense “tunnels” they often create are especially interesting to hike through. The correct name for it is Mountain Laurel. Rhododendron blooms in June to July and bears clusters of 10 to 20 bell-shaped flowers at the end of small branches. © Copyright 2020 Hearst Communications, Inc. Rhododendron’s dark bluish-green leaves are thick and leathery and range in size from 4 to 14 inches long. The easiest way to discern mountain laurel from rhododendron is by comparing the flowers. Mountain laurel usually blooms from May to June and has pink or white flowers with a red stripe encircling the center. She has over 15 years of experience working as a technical writer in the software industry. To put this in perspective The Ericaceae family also encompasses cranberries and blueberries both genus Vaccinium. This post may contain affiliate links. These plants are often found growing side-by-side in wooded, mountainous areas throughout the eastern United State.