The Fascinating Structure of Mountain Laurel
Hello Gardeners, I’m Amanda McNulty with Clemson Extension and Making It Grow. The flowers on mountain laurel, Kalmia latifolia, are usually a delicate pink and are borne in showy clusters. Upon closer examination, they are fascinating structures – the petals are fused like a cup and have small depressions that look like dots of deeper pink scattered all over – sometimes they are called calico flowers for that reason. These depressions are actually stamen pockets. Stamens, of course, are the male flower parts and the tips of the stamens – the pollen bearing anthers – are tucked into these pockets and held there under tension. When an insect – bumblebees are the major pollinators of these flowers – visits, it triggers those springs and pollen is sprayed throughout the air – sometimes to flowers on neighboring mountain laurel plants. . If an insect doesn’t visit the flower, the tension gradually releases and the pollen at least gets scattered around inside that particular blossom.