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Rhododendron

From Academic Kids

Rhododendron

Rhododendron ponticum
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Plantae
Division:Magnoliophyta
Class:Magnoliopsida
Order:Ericales
Family:Ericaceae
Genus:Rhododendron
Subgenera
  • Azaleastrum
  • Candidastrum
  • Hymenanthes
  • Mumeazalea
  • Pentanthera
  • Rhododendron
  • Therorhodion
  • Tsutsusi

Source: RBG, Edinburgh (http://www.rbge.org.uk)

Rhododendron (from the Greek: rhodos, "rose"; dendron, "tree") is a genus of flowering plants in the family Ericaceae. This is such a large genus that the plants are organised by subgenus, section, subsection and series. These subgenera can be basically divided into four groups:

  • Subgenus Rhododendron: small leaf or lepidotes (with scales on the underside of their leaves). Type: Rhododendron ferrugineum L.
  • Subgenus Hymenanthes: large leaf or elepidotes (without scales on the underside of their leaves). Type: Rhododendron degronianum Carr.
  • evergreen azaleas
  • deciduous azaleas.
Missing image
Rhodo_ss_arborea.jpg
Rhododendron niveum
Missing image
Wild_Rhododendrons_in_Kashmir.jpg
Wild Rhododendrons in Kashmir by E. Molyneux; painted before 1908

Rhododendron is a very widely distributed genus, but a major concentration of diversity occurs in the Sino-Himalayan mountains of southeast Asia from central Nepal and Sikkim east to Yunnan and Sichuan, with other significant areas of diversity in the mountains of Indo-China, Japan and Taiwan.

Several species also occur in North America and a few in Europe, and some tropical species occur as far south as Borneo and New Guinea. They grow well in acid soil, and are noted for their many clusters of large trumpet-shaped blooms and their glossy oval leaves. Most rhododendrons flower for only a brief period each year, but during that time they provide a stunning display of massed colour.

The Rhododendron is the national flower of Nepal. It is also the state flower of the US states of Washington and West Virginia, and the state of Sikkim in India.

There are several hundred cultivars of Rhododendron. These have been bred to have larger or smaller flowers, and a vast array of petal colours. An example of a cultivar popular in the US is Rhododendron 'President Roosevelt'.

Rhododendrons have a toxin called grayanotoxin in their pollen and nectar. People have been known to become ill from eating honey made by bees feeding on rhododendron and azalea flowers. All parts of the rhododendron are poisonous to horses, especially the leaves.

The largest natural rhododendron garden in the world is in Bakersville, North Carolina in the USA. The garden is situated on the top of Roan Mountain state park.

See also: Azalea

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