Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Mountain Laurel

What is unique about the about the wood I use?  A lot of the things I make are made from Mountain Laurel.

It is said that the Cherokee Indians made pipes, bowls, decorations, utensils, and other household goods out of the wood from Mountain Laurel.  It is a closely grained wood and very hard.

We have many huge Mountain Laurel on our land in the mountains of Virginia. Some of them have gotten so big that they have toppled over.  I began making things out of the fallen Mountain Laurel to use around the cabin.  We found that the wood is very close grained and hard, so each thing I made turned out better than I imagined.  

The Mountain Laurel

The Mountain Laurel growing along the stream and waterfall banks played a large part in the decision as to where we would build our cabin.  We had never seen such gigantic shrubs.  We were not even sure they were the typical Mountain Laurel normally seen in the mountains of North Carolina and Virginia that grow along the Appalachian and Blue Ridge Mountains.  After doing some research, we found they certainly were one and the same.

More information on Mountain Laurel here:

Mature plants are 6.5 to 10 feet tall, but may reach up to 40 feet in height.  The leaves are usually 3/4 inch to 4 inches long, and 1 to 2 inches wide.

Mountain Laurel is usually a tall, spreading shrub throughout most of its range, yet in the fertile Blue Ridge valleys and in the Allegheny Mountains of the southern Appalachian Mountains mountain-laurel may attain the size of a small tree.
In 1877, botanist Asa Gray noted at Caesar's Head in extreme northwest South Carolina that the trunks of mountain-laurel reached 50 inches (125 cm) in circumference. Mountain-laurel burl size varies with age. A 600-pound (272 kg) burl has been reported in western North Carolina.

A Mountain Laurel growing along the stream in all its glory!  Note how small the 5 foot 4 inch person looks standing to the left of the Mountain Laurel.  Sort of shows how big the Mountain Laurel is growing next to her even though she is a little distance away.


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