Friday, May 31, 2019

Memories & Mountain Laurel & Peter Kalm 1716-1779

Memorial Day always brings 3 things to my mind.  - The peonies that my mother & I gathered to place on the graves of loved ones, when I was a child. - The incredible bravery of my great grandfather & his 2 brothers who left the South to go to Illinois to enlist in the Civil War to fight for the Union. - And, way up here in the woods where we live, the mountain laurel always bloom on Memorial Day.  The amazing blooms line the lane up to our house, and they define the area between the grass & the woods surrounding our house.  A soft, sweet, beautiful reminder of the meaning of the day.
The American mountain laurel was named Kalmia latifolia during the 1700s, when America was still just a collection of colonies.  The plant was first recorded in America in 1624, soon after the English began to settle along the Atlantic coast.  The genus Kalmia was named by Carolus Linneaus himself, for his student Pehr (Peter) Kalm, who sailed across the Atlantic to travel through the countryside collecting plant samples to send back to Sweden. In Kalm’s account of Mountain Laurel, he calls the plant the “spoon tree.”