June 05, 2013

Mountain laurel performs its annual show

Now blooming on a mountain near you

Mountain laurel buds about to open. Photo by Mary Linkevich.

Now is the time to visit Hawk Mountain and other wooded areas to view one of nature’s most spectacular displays, the annual blooming of Mountain Laurel. Wooded locations and rocky hilltops like Hawk Mountain Sanctuary are excellent places to enjoy Pennsylvania’s showy state flower.

The leaves of Mountain Laurel remain dark-green year round, but the only time to enjoy the flowers in Pennsylvania is between May and mid- to late June, depending on spring and early summer weather. Peak blossoms typically coincide with Father’s Day.

The abundant flowers are considered some of the most beautiful of all shrubs with clusters of small, star-like blossoms. Other varieties may have deeper pink or even reddish flowers, and buds are framed and emphasized by glossy, lance-shaped leaves.

Mountain Laurel is also an excellent plant for cultivation. Besides its obvious beauty, laurel is generally left alone by insects and wildlife, and is eaten only as a last-resort due to its poisonous leaves and flowers. A native shrub, Mountain Laurel also grows vigorous and dense, and makes a wonderful addition to any landscape.

Open year-round, Hawk Mountain Sanctuary is the world's first refuge for birds of prey and an international center for raptor conservation. Its eight miles of trails and half a dozen scenic overlooks are open to the public for a modest trail fee. An average of 18,000 hawks, eagles and falcons are recorded each autumn as they migrate past Hawk Mountain.  

Cozen O'Connor