Ledum groenlandicum Oeder
Ledum palustre L. ssp. groenlandicum (Oeder) Hultén
Ledum palustre L. var. latifolium (Jacq.) Michx.
Rhododendron groenlandicum (Oeder) K.A. Kron & W.S. Judd
Labrador Tea, Bog Labrador Tea, Northern Labrador Tea
Bog labrador tea is found in North America, Greenland, Europe, and Asia. The name ”labrador tea” refers to the brewing of a medicinal tea from this herb by the Athabaskans, among others. The Athabaskans are a large group of peoples who occupied northwestern Canada and Alaska prior to the influx of Europeans.
Identification: Plants are low shrubs, which may be erect or lying on the ground, up to 20" (50 cm) in height, and have a sweet resiny scent that attracts pollinators. Wrinkly evergreen leaves are ¾-2" (2-6 cm) × ⅛-½" (3-15 mm), have downward-curled edges, and have unusually dense white to red-brown hairs on their undersides. Flowers are white, fragrant, ⅜-½" (1-1.5 cm) around, with five petals. They occur on rounded corymbs (clusters) 1-1¾" (3-5 cm) in diameter. Each flower has five long white stamens.
Edibility: Poisonous. Although not strongly poisonous, plants contain ledol, which can cause cramps and paralysis.
Medical: Although several indigenous North American peoples brewed medical teas from the leaves, there are conflicting accounts as to the safety of this practice. I wouldn’t drink it.
Ledum groenlandicum at Alaskawildflowers.us
Ledum groenlandicum on the Connecticut Botanical Society's Connecticut wildflowers site
Ledum groenlandicum on the USDA Forest Service's Fire Effects Information Database
Ledum groenlandicum at Botanical.com
Ledum groenlandicum on Blue Planet Biomes
Ledum groenlandicum at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Ledum groenlandicum on Plants for a Future, a resource and information centre for edible and otherwise useful plants
Ledum groenlandicum description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 12 Oct 2018.