Plants in the heath family are easy to identify year round, because they are evergreen. The broad, flat leaves don’t fall like oak or maple trees do. Heath plants native to North Carolina include Mountain Laurel and Rhododendron. Both of these plants have flowers that blossom in the spring and summer.

White and pink mountain laurel flowers
Leaves on a mountain laurel tree
A mountain laurel branch with a few leaves

Did you know?

Mountain laurel and rhododendron leaves are toxic to many creatures, but a few are resistant. Deer and bees can both safely eat the leaves and flowers of trees in the heath family.


Rhododendron bushes can be found across North Carolina, and can be identified by their leaves and flowers. Most rhododendrons are evergeen, and their leaves are thick, flat, and broad. Their flowers, which bloom from late winter to mid-summer, are shades of white and pink.

Bloom of light pink rhododendrons
A bloom of light pink laurel flowers

Mountain laurel have a small range than rhododenron bushes, and primarily grow on mountains and other high elevation areas. They can be distinguished from rhododendron by their smaller, thinner leaves. Can you tell the difference from these photos?

Mountain Laurel

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