Marsh Labrador Tea Plant Information
Marsh Labrador Tea grows in the following 18 states:Alaska, Connecticut, Idaho, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Vermont, Wisconsin, Oregon, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Washington
Rhododendron tomentosum (syn. Ledum palustre), commonly known as marsh Labrador tea, northern Labrador tea or wild rosemary, is a flowering plant in the subsection Ledum of the large genus Rhododendron in the family Ericaceae.
It is a low shrub growing to 50cm (rarely up to 120cm) tall with evergreen leaves 12-50mm long and 2-12mm broad. The flowers are small, with a five-lobed white corolla, and produced several together in a corymb 3-5cm diameter. They emit strong smell to attract bees and other pollinating insects.
In North America it grows in northern latitudes in Greenland, Canada, and Alaska, in Europe in the northern and central parts, and in Asia south to northern China, Korea and Japan. It grows in peaty soils, shrubby areas, moss and lichen tundra.
All parts of the plant contain poisonous terpenes that affect the central nervous system. First symptoms of overdose are dizziness and disturbances in movement, followed by spasms, nausea, and unconsciousness. The mere smell of the plant may cause headache to some people.
This species is not to be confused with the traditionally-used one Rhododendron groenlandicum, found particularly in the Labrador region (where its name comes from) and also throughout the rest of Northern North America.
Rhododendron tomentosum is used in herbalism to make an herbal tea called "Labrador tea". Some schools of homeopathy consider Rhododendron tomentosum to be a specific remedy for puncture wounds produced by sharp-pointed objects or bites. However, no objective material benefit has ever been documented in any properly controlled study to date.
Marsh Labrador tea has traditionally been used as a gruit in brewing beer in the Middle Ages. Due to its strong fragrance, it has also formerly been used as a natural deterrent against clothes moths in Scandinavia.
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