Alpine Azalea – Kalmia procumbens

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Alaska Wildflowers | Pink

The alpine azalea (Kalmia procumbens) on Ester Dome in Alaska

Alpine Azalea

Kalmia procumbens

Common Names

alpine azalea
creeping azalea
trailing azalea

Synonyms

Loiseleuria procumbens
Azalea procumbens
Chamaecistus procumbens

Genus: Kalmia
Family: Ericaceae
Order: Ericales
Full classification

Duration

Perennial

Uses

Warning – POISONOUS Uses section for information only (typically historical) – I take no responsibility for adverse effects from the use of any plant.

While there are no direct records for usage of Kalmia procumbens, members of the genus Kalmia are known to be extremely poisonous. Similar plants are known to kill livestock.

Identification and Information

The alpine azalea (Kalmia procumbens) is a mat-forming, evergreen, dwarf shrub that grows up to 10 cm (4 inches) thick. The older stems form a gray bark. The leaves are ovate to oval, opposite, approximately 6 mm (0.25 inches) in length, and appear waxy or glossy with rolled edges. Leaves may have stalks or may attach directly to the stems. The flowers bloom in late spring or summer, are small, white to magenta, and bell-shaped with 5 connate petals and 5 stamens.

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Distribution and Habitat

Kalmia procumbens is native to Alaska, most of Canada except Ontario. It can be found in but is considered threatened or endangered in Washington, Maine, New Hampshire, and New York.

The alpine azalea prefers subalpine, rocky, and exposed environments. Mostly in dry to slightly moist subarctic, arctic, and alpine tundra environments. It is often found on mountain slopes and ridges and frequently seen growing alongside lichen.

Classification

RankScientific Name (Common Name)
KingdomPlantae (Plants)
SubkingdomViridiplantae (Green plants)
InfrakingdomStreptophyta (Land plants)
SuperdivisionEmbryophyta
DivisionTracheophyta (Vascular plants)
ClassMagnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
SuperorderAsteranae
OrderEricales
FamilyEricaceae – Heath family
GenusKalmia L. – loiseleuria
SpeciesKalmia procumbens – alpine azalea

References and Further Reading

Guidebook

Field Guide to Alaskan Wildflowers, Pratt, Verna E. pg 21

Classification and Taxonomy

Kalmia procumbens  (L.) Gift, Kron & P.F. Stevens ex Galasso, Banfi & F. Conti Taxonomic Serial No.: 565766, ITIS Database

Loiseleuria procumbens (L.) Desv. alpine azalea, USDA Database (outdated)

Uses

Kalmia latifolia – L., Plants for a Future

NAEB Text Search: Search String “kalmia”, Native American Ethnobotany Database

Description

Alpine azalea, Wildflowers of the National Forests in Alaska (USDA)

Kalmia procumbens (L.) Gift, Kron, & P.F. Stevens ex Gala, Native Plant Trust – Go Botany

Scientific Description

8. Kalmia procumbens (Linnaeus) Gift, Kron & P. F. Stevens ex Galasso, Banfi & F. Conti in F. Conti et al., Annot. Checkl. Ital. Vasc. Fl. 20. 2005., Flora of North America

All online sources accessed March 2021 unless otherwise noted

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