Habit: labrador tea is a native shrub with smooth, brown bark and aromatic leaves. Its branches are hairy, dotted with resinous glands and support a leathery, evergreen foliage. Leaves are alternate and oblong, usually drooping. Each leaf measures up to 3 inches long and is dark green and smooth above, but glandular with whitish hairs bellow. Edges are slightly rolled under. From June to August, showy round-topped clusters of white or cream-colored flowers come into sight. Individual flowers have 5 petals each, and a set of protruding stamens.
Ecology: found in peat lands, bogs and swampy areas, typically in acidic and humus-rich soils. It grows at low to high elevations along the Columbia River and the Pacific Coast from British Columbia through Central California.
Growing conditions: full sun to partial shade and wet to moist soils. Very adaptable to soil texture and pH. This species adds year-round interest to the margin of a pond, or a wet spot in the garden. The spicy fragrance of the leaves will be highly appreciated near an outdoor sitting space, or in the border of a pathway.
Although a tea can be made from the leaves, this species can be poisonous if ingested in large quantities. It should not be fed to wild or domestic animals.