Natives and non-natives

Rob's comment about Kalmia latifolia (to my last post) got me wondering about whether it's used much in England. I would have thought it would have accompanied all of our native Eastern U.S. heath shrubs like Rhododendron across the pond.

But he's an excellent gardener and interested in plants in general (check out his blog at Sustainable Garden.)

The international trade in plants (which has gone on for centuries) is a fascinating tale, with results both good and bad.  Many of our Southeastern U.S. natives, such as Southern Magnolia (Magnolia grandiflora), are treasured landscape plants through the world. And many aren't pesky where they're planted (I wish that were true of all of them).

So, I was interested to see that Kalmia latifolia is listed on the RHS website plant listing, but I didn't get much (in terms of good hits) on 'Kalmia latifolia in England'

I'm thinking that since it normally grows best in acidic soil habitats that maybe it's not so happy in more neutral or alkaline soils.  Ditto for Rhododendron, too, but perhaps they're not as particular?


  1. Interesting question. I have been reading about the origins of many plants that we have here in the States, many from China and Japan.

  2. Living here in Colorado with its alkaline soil, one of the disappointments -- native Oregonian that I am -- is that nothing can be done to establish rhodies here. That doesn't stop some nurseries trying to sell them, but the only place I've seen a rhodie in the entire state is... in these nurseries. (Of course, these are the places that put hebes in the perennial section and, when questioned about whether they're appropriate for our zone 5b temps, say breezily, "Well, just treat it like an annual!" !!!!!)

  3. You probably know the story of 18thcent. botanist John Bartram--- k.l. was in the very first box he sent to Peter Collinson in London.

  4. CEN, I didn't know that, so thanks!

    And, Patricia, isn't it curious how horticultural marketers try to sell us plants that aren't suitable for our region?

    Enjoy learning about all of the plants that we grow from elsewhere and their North American relatives -- plant collection and trading make for fascinating stories.


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