Mountain Laurel by Homer Edward PricePhoto by Homer Edward Price

Fast Facts

  • Adopted the Connecticut state flower in 1907
  • Botanical name: Kalmia latifolia
  • Also known as Ivybush, Calico Bush and Sheep Laurel
  • Mountain laurel trivia: Almost all of the parts of the mountain laurel are poisonous to wildlife and humans

At the turn of the 20th century, over 3,000 women urged Connecticut’s state legislature to adopt the beautiful mountain laurel as the Connecticut state flower. Not everyone embraced the idea at first. One senator grumbled that floral emblems were unnecessary. Then he argued in favor of the clover to take the honor because it reminded him of a shamrock, which he truly admired. Ultimately, as supportive lawmakers received sprigs of mountain laurel on their desks, the mountain laurel prevailed and in 1907, it became the state flower of Connecticut.

Kalmia latifolia by pflyPhoto by pfly

As one of the most beautiful shrubs in America, it’s easy to see why all of those women wanted the mountain laurel as the Connecticut state flower. Every year in the months of May and June, the mountain laurel bursts with masses of bright tiny blooms. These colorful flowers turn roadsides, wildernesses and suburban yards throughout the state delightful colors of pink, white or red. The mountain laurel grows throughout the eastern half of the United States, including the southern region of Connecticut. During blossom time, it puts on a floral show for drivers along Interstate 95. From Stamford to Bridgeport to New Haven, the mountain laurel’s beautiful flowers line the roadsides. Clumps of the Connecticut state flower are also prominent along the scenic Merritt Parkway as well as in the northern half of Connecticut.

Each year visitors from Hartford and elsewhere head to Haystack Mountain State Park in Norfolk to hike amongst the laurel bushes. Hikers can view these beauties under stands of spruce fir or in the open clearings along the trails. The mountain laurel’s beauty can be seen beyond the state of Connecticut. Its range stretches from southern Maine to northern Florida and westward to Indiana and Louisiana. In addition to being the state flower of Connecticut, the mountain laurel is also the state flower of Pennsylvania where it appears annually in the Appalachian Mountains.

Connecticut State FlowerSources:

State of Connecticut

Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources