(Ledum Groenlandicum; L. latifolium of Gray) Heath family

Flowers - White, 5-parted, 1/2 in. across or less, numerous,

borne in terminal, umbellate clusters rising from scaly, sticky

bud-bracts. 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


Preferred Habitat - Swamps, bogs, wet mountain woods. Flowering

Season - May-June.

Distribution - Greenland to Pennsylvania, west to Wisconsin.

Whoever has used the homeopathic lotion distilled from the leaves

of Ledum palustre, a similar species found at the far North,

knows the tea-like fragrance given forth by the leaves of this

common shrub when crushed in a warm hand. But because the

homeopathists 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.