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Vascular Plants of California
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Kalmia polifolia

Higher Taxonomy
Family: EricaceaeView DescriptionDichotomous Key
Habit: Perennial herb, shrub, tree. Stem: bark often peeling distinctively. Leaf: simple or 0, generally cauline, alternate, opposite (whorled), evergreen or deciduous, often leathery, petioled or not; stipules 0. Inflorescence: raceme, panicle, cyme, or flowers 1, terminal or axillary, generally bracted; pedicel often with 2 bractlets. Flower: generally bisexual, generally radial, bell-shaped, cylindric, or urn-shaped; sepals generally (0)4--5, generally free; petals generally (0)4--5, free or fused; stamens (2--5)8--10, free, filaments rarely appendaged, anthers dehiscing by pores or slits, awns 0 or 2(4), seemingly abaxial, reduced or elongate, generally curved; nectary generally present at ovary base, generally disk-like; ovary superior or inferior, chambers generally 1--5, placentas axile or parietal, ovules 1--many per chamber, style 1, stigma head- to funnel-like or lobed. Fruit: capsule, drupe, berry. Seed: generally many, winged or not.
Genera In Family: +- 100 genera, 3000 species: generally worldwide except deserts; some cultivated, especially Arbutus, Arctostaphylos, Rhododendron, Vaccinium. Note: Monophyletic only if Empetraceae included, as treated here. Ledum included in Rhododendron. Non-green plants obtain nutrition from green plants through fungal intermediates.
eFlora Treatment Author: Gary D. Wallace, except as noted
Scientific Editor: Gary D. Wallace, Thomas J. Rosatti, Bruce G. Baldwin.
Genus: KalmiaView Description 

Habit: Shrub [small tree]; evergreen. Stem: prostrate to erect. Leaf: opposite [alternate, whorled], margins flat or rolled under. Inflorescence: flowers 1 in leaf axils [raceme], pedicel jointed to flower. Flower: sepals 5, fused near base; petals 5, fused, corolla generally rotate to cup-shaped with pockets holding anthers until dehiscence; stamens 10, filaments recurved toward corolla; ovary superior, chambers 5, placenta axile. Fruit: septicidal capsule, dehiscing tip to base, valves 5. Seed: small.
Etymology: (P. Kalm, student of Linnaeus, collector of eastern North America pls, 1716--1779)
eFlora Treatment Author: Kathleen A. Kron
Unabridged Reference: Southall & Hardin 1974 J Elisha Mitchell Sci Soc 90:1--23
Kalmia polifolia Wangenh.
Habit: Plant 1--7 dm, mat-forming. Stem: ascending, glabrous or sparsely hairy, young stems with 2 edges. Leaf: 4--60 mm, 3--25 mm wide, linear to ovate or oblong, abaxially pale green to white, finely canescent. Inflorescence: bracts deciduous. Flower: corolla 7--11 mm, pink to rose-purple. Fruit: 4--5(7) mm wide. Chromosomes: 2n=24,48.
Ecology: Peat bogs, moist meadows, rock crevices; Elevation: 1000--3500 m. Bioregional Distribution: KR, NCoRO, CaRH, SNH, Wrn; Distribution Outside California: northern North America. Flowering Time: Jun--Aug Note: 2 subspecies previously recognized evidently based on variation caused directly by altitude.
Synonyms: Kalmia microphylla (Hook.) A. Heller; Kalmia microphylla var. microphylla; Kalmia polifolia Wangenh. subsp. microphylla (Hook.) Calder & Roy L. Taylor; Kalmia polifolia Wangenh. subsp. polifolia
Jepson eFlora Author: Kathleen A. Kron
Index of California Plant Names (ICPN; linked via the Jepson Online Interchange)

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Jepson Video for Kalmia polifolia

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Botanical illustration including Kalmia polifolia

botanical illustration including Kalmia polifolia

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Citation for this treatment: Kathleen A. Kron 2012, Kalmia polifolia, in Jepson Flora Project (eds.) Jepson eFlora,, accessed on April 23, 2024.

Citation for the whole project: Jepson Flora Project (eds.) 2024, Jepson eFlora,, accessed on April 23, 2024.

Kalmia polifolia
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©2019 Neal Kramer
Kalmia polifolia
click for enlargement
©2019 Neal Kramer
Kalmia polifolia  
var. microphylla
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©2004 Steve Matson
Kalmia polifolia  
var. microphylla
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©2008 George W. Hartwell
Kalmia polifolia
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©2009 Keir Morse

More photos of Kalmia polifolia
in CalPhotos

Geographic subdivisions for Kalmia polifolia:
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map of distribution 1
(Note: any qualifiers in the taxon distribution description, such as 'northern', 'southern', 'adjacent' etc., are not reflected in the map above, and in some cases indication of a taxon in a subdivision is based on a single collection or author-verified occurence).


Data provided by the participants of the  Consortium of California Herbaria.
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All markers link to CCH specimen records. The original determination is shown in the popup window.
Blue markers indicate specimens that map to one of the expected Jepson geographic subdivisions (see left map). Purple markers indicate specimens collected from a garden, greenhouse, or other non-wild location.
Yellow markers indicate records that may provide evidence for eFlora range revision or may have georeferencing or identification issues.

CCH collections by month

Duplicates counted once; synonyms included.
Species do not include records of infraspecific taxa, if there are more than 1 infraspecific taxon in CA.
Blue line denotes eFlora flowering time (fruiting time in some monocot genera).