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Common Shrub Species of the Northwest Forest

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HERBS

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Ledum groenlandicum
Labrador Tea
Ericaceae (Heath Family)

Description

Labrador Tea General - low, spreading evergreen shrub, 30-80 cm tall; spicy fragrance; many branches, with dense rusty hairs.

Leaves - alternate; oblong to narrowly oblong, 1-5 cm long, often drooping; leathery, deep green above; rusty below, with dense woolly hairs (hairs on young leaves may not be rusty); edges rolled under.

Flowers - in loose, umbrella-like clusters at branch tips; white, 5-8 mm long, with protruding stamens; stalks white, slender, with 5 separate, white petals; appearing in late May and June.

Fruit - drooping, 5-parted, dry, finely hairy capsules, 5-7 mm long; in clusters at branch tips; appearing in late July and August.

Habitat

Bogs, swamps and moist woods; indicator of acidic, nutrient-poor soils; widespread across NW Ontario's boreal forest, north to Arctic coast.

Notes

The leaves were used by Native North Americans to make medicinal tea and the leaves been traditionally collected to make a brown dye.

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