A bee's eye view of the native Mountain Laurel, Kalmia latifolia is a treat reserved for the few willing to trek to some of southern Ohio's remotest mountain tops. A plant known only to Ohio's unglaciated Appalachian plateau, Mountain Laurel makes the case for the need to study a bit of geology to really understand botany. The landscape drives the native plants, and you'll be courting disappointment to look for this beauty anywhere but our southern counties that were not smoothed-out during our glacial periods. Ancient geological history still impacts today's plant ecology.
Rhododendron Cove is one of the loveliest sites in Ohio, and will test your legs a bit in the clamber to the top. But once there, the rocky ridges are adorned with Mountain Laurel and Great Rhododendron. The clusters of flowers (please click on the link) on each stem create a snowball look, and is much more lovely than this single flower view. But this is the view a local pollinator will have right before he gets WHAPPED. Those stamens are spring-loaded, and once disturbed are released to smack the bee with a load of pollen to cart off to the next flower. It must be tough work "bee"ing a Mountain Laurel pollinator! Staggering about under the weight of a pollen load, and being whapped repeated throughout the day is the only way to get the job done.
Thanks to Paul Knoop, one of Ohio's finest naturalist and kindest of men, for relaying the whole Mountain Laurel pollinator story to me. Hopefully you enjoyed it as much as I did, and will someday make the trek to see Ohio's Mountain Laurels in bloom.