Kalmia. Kalmia latifolia. Laurel, Mountain Laurel, Broad-leafed Laurel, Calico-bush, Spoon-wood.
Kalmia. Kalmia latifolia L. Laurel. Mountain Laurel. Broad-leafed Laurel. Calico-bush. Spoon-wood. Kalmie, Fr., G.—This well-known ericaceous evergreen shrub is found from New Brunswick to Florida and from Ohio to Louisiana, being especially abundant on the sides of hills and mountains. It is from 1 to 4 m. in height. The leaves, which are supposed to be possessed of poisonous, narcotic properties, have been found by Charles Bullock to contain gum, tannic acid, resin, chlorophyll, fatty matter, a substance resembling mannite, an acrid principle, wax, extractive, albumen, yellow coloring matter, lignin, and salts of potassium, calcium, and iron. (A. J. P., xx, 264.) George W. Kennedy detected the glucoside arbutin in them. (A. J. P., xlvii, 5.) Bourquelot and Fichtenholz stated that the glucoside that they obtained from the leaves of K. latifolia is identical with the asebotin that Eykmann found in Andromeda japonica; both yield a red color with ferric chloride. The leaves are popularly believed to be poisonous to sheep and other small animals, but are said to be eaten with impunity by deer, goats, and grouse. It is also affirmed that severe and fatal poisoning has been produced by eating grouse that have fed upon these leaves. (See 16th ed., U. S. D.) Crawford (Bulletin 121, Bureau of Plant Industry, U. S. Dept. of Agriculture), in experimental investigations, found that laurel caused, either when fed to, or injected into, the lower animals, great salivation, lachrymation and emesis, convulsions, and later paralysis of the extremities, with greatly labored respiration. It is probable, although not proven, that the poisonous principle of this plant is andromedotoxin. The leaves have been used internally in diarrhea and in syphilis, and externally in skin diseases. (See 16th ed., U. S. D.)
It is probable that other species of kalmia, as K. angustifolia L., or sheep-laurel, and K. glauca Ait. or swamp-laurel, have properties identical with those of K. latifolia. A decoction of the leaves of K. angustifolia is used by the negroes as a wash for ulcerations between the toes.