There are about 7 species of evergreen shrubs, in this genus. They occur in woodland, swamps, and meadows in North America and one from Cuba. They produce deep green, leathery leaves with paler undersides, which may carried alternately, in opposite pairs, or in whorls. In late spring and early summer it bears showy bowl, cup, or saucer shaped pink to red flowers held in corymbs or racemes. They are useful for a shrub border or in woodland garden, the dwarf species and cultivars are suitable for a large rock garden. All parts may cause severe discomfort if ingested.
Grow in lime free, moist, humus rich, slightly acidic soil in partial shade or in sun where soil remains reliably moist. Mulch annually in spring with leaf mold or pine needles.
Prone to fungal leaf spots and blights, leaf gall, powdery mildew, weevils, scale insects, lace bugs and borers.
K. polifolia – Eastern Bog Laurel – This dwarf, sparsely branched shrub from Canada and Northeastern USA grows 2’ feet tall and 3’ feet wide. It produces linear to oblong, glossy, dark green leaves with silvery gray, glandular hairy undersides, to 1 ½” long, carried in opposite pairs or whorls of threes, with rolled back edges. In mid and late spring it bears racemes, 1-1 ½” across, of up to 12 saucer shaped, vivid purple-pink flowers, ½-3-4” across. Requires moist soil.