Labrador tea – Rhodendron groenlandicum. Identification and characteristics


This is Labrador tea. It’s an evergreen shrub that
grows in bogs, peatlands, and other areas with highly
acidic, nutrient-poor soils. It grows from low
to mid elevations. The common name, Labrador tea, comes
from the fact that many aboriginal groups and European traders across Canada
brewed tea from its leaves. The family is Ericaceae, and the scientific name is currently
Rhododendron groenlandicum, but until recently it was
Ledum groenlandicum. Labrador tea has a much-branched form,
one half to one and a half meters tall. It has alternate, narrow, leathery
leaves about six centimeters long. The margins are rolled under, and the underside of the leaves
have rusty red hairs. it has white flowers with
protruding stamens, borne in umbrella-like
clusters. The fruit are drooping clusters
of hairy capsules. There are several other wetland species
that look similar to Labrador tea. The key for identifying it is those rusty hairs on the
underside of the leaves. The soil moisture regime
is wet to very wet, and the soil nutrient
regime is poor.

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