Rhododendron is a genus of about 1000 species of shrubs and small trees in the Ericaceae family, native to Asia, Europe, North America and Northern Australia.
Rhododendrons come in various shapes, sizes and bloom times. They are wonderful garden plants grown for their bell-shaped flowers and attractive evergreen foliage. The flowers are colorful, showy and sometimes fragrant.
The genus name is derived from the Ancient Greek words “rhodon”, which means “rose” and “dendron” meaning “tree”, and it literally translates to “Rose Tree”.
Despite their name, most Rhododendrons grow as shrubs.
Rhododendron is a symbol of temptation, caution and danger.
Interesting facts about Rhododendron:
The Difference Between Rhododendrons and Azaleas
Including about 1000 species, Rhododendron genus is one of the largest genera in the plant world, divided into eight subgenera. Two subgenera or subgroups are known to gardeners as “Azaleas”: Pentanthera (deciduous Azaleas) and Tsutsusi (evergreen Azaleas).
You should not confuse Azaleas and Rhododendrons! Rhododendrons and Azaleas both belong to the genus Rhododendron, but they are completely different species. All Azaleas are Rhododendrons, but not all Rhododendrons are Azaleas.
In relation to Azaleas, Rhododendrons have larger leaves and their flowers are bell shaped, while Azalea flowers are funnel-shaped.
The Tallest Rhododendron
The world’s tallest Rhododendron is located at Mount Japfu near Kohima, Nagaland, India, and reaches 32 metres (108 ft) in height.
Rhododendron in Nepal
Rhododendron arboreum is the national flower of the Federal Democratic Republic of Nepal. In Nepal, the plant is known as Gurans.
There are more than 30 species of Rhododendron in Nepal and they come in variety of sizes and colors. They grow wild in the Himalayan forests and the hillsides.
Is Rhododendron Poisonous?
The plant is poisonous to pets and humans if ingested. The leaves are the most poisonous part of the plant, but the flowers and stems are also toxic.
Benefits and Uses
Rhododendron has medicinal properties and its extracts have been used for treating diseases such as gout, rheumatism, neuralgia, muscle pain, rib pain, headaches, sore throat, cough and cold. It has also been used to stimulate appetite and digestive heat.
Although the plant has medicinal uses, it can produce many serious side effects.
The plant is considered edible in some Asian countries.
It is traditionally used to make juices in Nepal. The locals also eat the flower petals.
Essential oils from some species are used in perfumes.
Rhododendron blooms in various colors, from pure white to red, orange and pink to gold and purple.
Spring, Autumn, Winter, Summer
The species range in size from low ground covers and medium sized shrubs to trees that can reach 25 metres (82 ft) tall.
Rhododendrons will perform best in moist and well drained soil, with a pH level between 4.5 and 6.0.