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any of about seven species of evergreen shrubs constituting a genus (Kalmia) in the heath family (Ericaceae). All the species occur in North America and the West Indies, and one species is more widely distributed in the Northern Hemisphere. The leaves, which are borne on short stalks, are smooth-edged and opposite, alternate, or whorled (i.e., with three or more growing from one point in a circle). The often bowl-shaped, five-lobed showy flowers are pink, purple, lavender, or white and are borne in terminal or lateral (arising from the leaf axil) clusters. The anthers are usually tucked into pockets on the inner surface of the petals. When touched by an insect, the anthers spring free, scattering pollen onto the insect's body. Three species are particularly well known: K. angustifolia, sometimes called sheep laurel, dwarf laurel, and pig laurel; K. latifolia, sometimes called mountain laurel, American laurel, calico bush, and spoonwood; and K. polifolia, sometimes called pale laurel, bog laurel, or bog kalmia.