The Mountain Laurel
The Journal of Mountain Life

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from the
Heart of the Blue Ridge


By Susan M. Thigpen © 1984-2012

Issue: March, 1984

galaxBlooming Galax plant. Illustrated by Susan M. Thigpen.One of the most prominent low growing foliage plants in the Blue Ridge Mountains is a little plant called Galax. It is so prolific the chances are, if you have walked through a patch of mountain woods, you've stepped over it. Growing in thick clusters close to the ground, its leaves are a shiny, leathery green in summer but turn a copper red in fall and winter. In areas where it isn't protected, it is gathered and used by the florist trade.

Galax blooms in May and June, with a single slender stalk about one or two feet tall bearing a cluster of tiny white flowers at its tip. You can see Galax in dry woods with acid soil. The only reference I could find as to how it got its name was that it presumably came from the Greek "gala", meaning milk, in reference to the color of its flowers.