The mountain laurel (Kalmia latifolia) is in various stages of bloom throughout Bent Tree right now. It’s hard to miss.
“In some areas we noticed browse lines starting to occur in patches of mountain laurel.” – Steve Smith, USDA (March 1, 2010 in letter to Bent Tree regarding the results of the first spotlight survey).
Something is damaging mountain laurel in Bent Tree, but it isn’t the deer. Over the last several years, the mountain laurel has suffered increasing damage from some sort of disease or insect, in addition to drought damage. Die-off has occurred, starting with the lower branches, then spreading upwards. This looks similar to a deer browse line in some stands of the laurel. If someone takes the time to actually walk up and look at the mountain laurel, it is obvious that it IS NOT THE DEER causing this. In some cases, the entire plant has died. Some areas of Bent Tree have been hit harder than others, and it seems to be spreading. It’s not happening just here. The same affliction was seen at Gibbs Gardens during a visit there last month. Click here and here to link to information on common problems that may affect mountain laurel. The first link has photos that look very similar to what is going on with laurels in Bent Tree. Following are several pictures illustrating the problem in Bent Tree. The last two pictures are of mountain laurel at Gibbs Gardens.