Mountain Laurel draws attention | News, Sports, Jobs



LEIGHTON – State Flower Attracts Attention Pennsylvania’s state flower is in bloom throughout the Commonwealth, displaying its whites, pinks and reds against its evergreens.

While different regions hold events to celebrate the beauty of the mountain laurel, seeing the flowering shrub is as easy as a walk through the woods or a leisurely stroll along the region’s roads.

“porcupine pat” McKinney, environmental educator for the Schuylkill Conservation District, explained where to find the showy species, which has an interesting history and unique characteristics.

“Mountain laurel likes cool, acidic, well-drained soils. The preferred habitat I see is the understory of a forest,” he said.

They are unmistakable, he said, with flowers that can range from white to pink to dark pink, and distinctive markings of symmetrical brown or purple dots or streaks.

The mountain laurel is native to the east coast and was celebrated long before it became the state flower. In the early 20th century, it became so harvested that it was suggested as a candidate for environmental protection.

It is also “one of the fastest factories in the world” thanks to its pollination tactics, notes the Harvard Gazette.

McKinney explained the unusual way the bell-shaped flowers distribute pollen.

“Their stamens are arched, with the tips held under the rim of the bell. When a bee or other pollinator lands on the flower, the weight of the insect releases the stamen, which flings the pollen like a catapult. he said.

The mountain laurel narrowly became the national flower in 1933.

“The General Assembly had passed two bills each naming a different favorite shrub – the mountain laurel and the pink azalea”, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.

Governor Gifford Pinchot chose the mountain laurel over the azalea, perhaps because it was located in nearly all 67 counties, or because of public concern for its conservation.

“During the 1920s, an estimated 20 million pounds of laurel foliage was picked each year across its range and used for decorations, especially holiday wreaths, branches and flower arrangements,” Comments from the DCNR.

Even earlier – in 1913 – the New York Botanical Gardens published a list of 14 wild plants “need for protection”.

Author of the article Elizabeth Britton noted, “Rhododendrons and laurels are shipped by carloads from merchants in the mountains of Pennsylvania and the southern Alleghenies, who supply florists and nurseries from wild sources. How long can they last?

The laurel never received “official” protection, but word of its over-collection has resonated — and continues to resonate — with the public.

A common belief is that it is illegal to pick the state flower. The DCNR notes that this is not true.

Individuals, however, are not permitted to remove plants from public or private land without permission.

Pennsylvania’s Laurel Highlands, which include the southwestern counties of Fayette, Somerset, and Westmoreland, are a popular destination for laurel enthusiasts who come in droves from late May through late June.

“Because it grows in abundance in our region, the magnificent mountain laurel is the namesake of our Laurel Highlands. The elevation, climate and richness of the Pottsville Sandstone region make it the perfect place for this iconic flower to thrive,” explained Anna Weltz, spokesperson for GO Laurel Highlands, which manages tourism in the region.

GO Laurel Highlands flowers are so popular that reps often suggest driving directions or places to visit. Among them is Frank Lloyd Wright’s iconic Fallingwater.

McKinney suggested two locations “Roads of Laurels” in the zone.

“You will see a good number when you turn and turn on the pavement” along the Burma Highway between Locust Lake State Park (in Barnesville) and St. Clair, he said. Another is Route 61 from Frackville to St. Clair.

Alternate routes include the Lofty route from Route 309 to Delano; Brockton Mountain Drive between Brockton and Barnesville, and Route 93 between Nesquehoning and Packer Township.

Those who prefer to walk can find information on the websites of state parks in the area, including Tuscarora and Hickory Run. Both are mentioned for having trails full of plants.

Further north in the Poconos, Pocono Mountain Visitors Bureau spokesman James Hamill heard of a spectacular exhibit at Big Pocono State Park.



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