(Ledum Groenlandicum) Heath family (L. latifolium of Gray)
Flowers’; White, 5-parted, in. across or less, numerous, borne in terminal, umbellate clusters rising from scaly, sticky budbracts. Stem : A compact shrub 1 to 4 ft. high, resinous, the twigs woolly-hairy. Leaves : Alternate, thick, evergreen, oblong, obtuse, small, dull above, rusty-woolly beneath, the margins curled.
Preferred HabitatSwamps, bogs, wet mountain woods. Flowering SeasonMayJune.
DistriutionGreenland to Pennsylvania, west to Wisconsin.
Whoever has used the homoeopathic lotion distilled from the leaves of Ledum palustre, a similar species found at the far North, knows the tealike fragrance given forth by the leaves of this common shrub when crushed in a warm hand. But because the homoeopathists claim that like is cured by like, are we to assume that these little bushes, both of which afford a soothing lotion, also irritate and poison ? It may be ; for they are next of kin to the azaleas, laurels, and rhododendrons, known to be injurious since Xenophon’s day. At the end of May, when the Labrador tea is white with abundant flower-clusters, one cannot but wonder why so desirable an acquisition is never seen in men’s gardens here among its relatives. Over a hundred years ago the dense, compact little shrub was taken to England to adorn sunny bog-gardens on fine estates. Doubtless the leaves have woolly mats underneath for the reason given in reference to the Steeple-bush.