Rhododendron
(Rhododendron ponticum)
Simple
Linear
Alternate
Shrub, Toothless, Evergreen

leaf

flower

flower closeup

shrubs in flower

distribution map

The alternate leaves, clustered towards the end of the stems, are 6-12 cm long, leathery, unlobed and untoothed and taper to a sharp point. They are dark and glossy above, paler below and have very short stalks.

ID check

Rhododendron is an introduced evergreen shrub, up to 3 m in height with a smooth bark. It spreads rapidly by suckering, to form dense thickets beneath woodland trees or out in the open.

The bell-shaped 5-petalled flowers are purple with brown spots, 5 cm across, and appear in clusters of 10-15 in May.

Each flower has 10 showy, curved anthers.

Flowers develop into cylindrical capsules 15mm long, which contain many small flattened seeds.

Facts

  • It was introduced from the Armenia in the Caucasus in about 1763 and planted to give cover for game birds in woods.

  • In many areas it is so invasive that it overwhelms the native vegetation, causing enormous conservation problems.

  • The rootstock is used to graft the hundreds of varieties of Rhododendron, which are grown in parks and gardens for ornament

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