Mountain Laurel Leaves vs Rhododendron – Key Distinction

mountain laurel leaves vs rhododendron
mountain laurel leaves vs rhododendron

Rhododendron and mountain laurel leaves are often mixed up together as they are very identical to each other. However, it is a mistake that many beginners seem to make as they don’t really know what differentiates one from the other.

This is why today; we will be making a comparison between mountain laurel vs rhododendron. So, in case you have been wondering about both these shrubs, and want to learn more about them in detail, then here is everything that you need to learn!

Mountain Laurel Leaves vs Rhododendron

Mountain Laurel Leaves

Mountain Laurel shrub belongs to the easter part of the United States. These plants usually grow in the form of a small tree and grow around 3 feet tall. Mountain Laurels play an important role especially during the winter as they help in providing a ground cover and attract pollinators.

These plants seem to only grow in sandy and rocky soil. Furthermore, these plants don’t grow in any wet soil or clay. Even though they grow in fully sunny areas, part of their roots still preferred to remain cool, which is why it is recommended to add mulch when growing them in your home garden.

Mountain laurels have charming white and pink flowers that usually bloom around May to June. These are cup-shaped flowers, whereas the leaves are 2-5” tall with yellow-green to dark green color. One thing to note is that there are plenty of different varieties for the Mountain Laurel, each one of them having its own blooms.


Identical to the Mountain Laurels in appearance, the term “Rhododendron” usually refers to a genus that comprises hundreds of different species that also include azaleas. Rhododendron may be either deciduous shrubs or evergreen plants.

Most rhododendrons that you can find in a garden are hybrid, but you can also find plenty of wild rhododendrons in different parts of the United States. They act as one of the main food sources for deer and may also attract bees and hummingbirds.

While the plant usually grows in similar conditions to that of mountain laurel, they do not grow well in clay soil as well. if these plants are grown in direct sunlight without any shade, they may start suffering from sun scorch. Ideally, these plants should be grown in spots where they get a bit of shade in the day, but this as well depends on the species of the plant.

Similarly, these plants also bloom at the same time from late June to July. In appearance, their flowers have a white to light pink color, with leaves from 4-14” tall, having a dark green color.

But What’s The Difference Between the Two?

The question remains as to what really differs one shrub from the other. Some of the key differences include in their leaves as the underside leaves of both these plants are different. While Mountain Laurels have a pale shade of green color on their underside, you will notice rhododendron being covered in brown fuzz.

Another difference regarding the appearance of the leaves is in the curling direction of the leaves. In the case of Mountain Laurels, their leaves curl in a way similar to a cup, whereas on the other side, rhododendrons’ leaves curl in a downward direction.

Likewise, the size of rhododendron’s leaves is much bigger than Mountain laurels. Apart from these differences, there are also plenty of similarities between the two plants which is why they are often mistaken for one another. Both these plants are highly toxic if they are eaten together.

The Bottom Line:

Comparing Mountain laurel leaves vs Rhododendron, lots of beginners tend to think of both these plants as the same. However, this is not quite true. Even though both the plants awfully look similar, and have similar traits, there are still some differences between the two plants. In order to learn more about these differences, be sure to give the article a thorough read!

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