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          Rhododendron maximum (Great laurel)
          Cressler, Alan

          Rhododendron maximum

          Rhododendron maximum L.

          Great Laurel, Wild Rhododendron, Rosebay Rhododendron, White Laurel, Rosebay

          Ericaceae (Heath Family)

          Synonym(s): Rhododendron ashleyi

          USDA Symbol: RHMA4

          USDA Native Status: L48 (N), CAN (N)

          Evergreen, thicket-forming shrub or tree with short, crooked trunk, broad, rounded crown of many stout, crooked branches, and large white blossoms. Great-laurel or rosebay rhododendron is a loose, open, broadleaf evergreen with multiple-trunks, upright branching, and the largest leaves of all native rhododendrons. The plant grows 4-15 ft. in the north, but can grow 30 ft. high in favorable sites. Its foliage is dark blue-green and leathery. Large, bell-shaped, white to purplish-pink, spotted flowers appear in terminal clusters of 16-24.

          Rosebay Rhododendron is abundant in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Often grown as an ornamental, it is one of the hardiest and largest evergreen rhododendrons. The wood is occasionally used for tool handles, and a home remedy has been prepared from the leaves.


          From the Image Gallery

          21 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

          Plant Characteristics

          Duration: Perennial
          Habit: Shrub
          Leaf: Dark Green
          Fruit: Brown
          Size Class: 12-36 ft.

          Bloom Information

          Bloom Color: White , Pink
          Bloom Time: Jun


          USA: AL , CT , DC , GA , KY , MA , MD , ME , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , PA , RI , SC , TN , VA , VT , WV
          Canada: NS
          Native Distribution: W. ME to NY & OH, s., especially in the mts., s. to n. GA
          Native Habitat: Moist, dense woods; steep stream banks; mountain slopes

          Growing Conditions

          Water Use: Medium
          Light Requirement: Part Shade
          Soil Moisture: Moist , Wet
          Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
          CaCO3 Tolerance: None
          Soil Description: Cool, moist, well-drained soil.


          Warning: Rhododendrons contain poisonous substances and should not be ingested by humans or animals. Honey made from flowers also may be toxic. POISONOUS PARTS: All parts. Highly Toxic, May be Fatal if eaten. Symptoms include salivation, watering of eyes and nose, abdominal pain, loss of energy, depression, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, difficult breathing, progressive paralysis of arms and legs, coma. Toxic Principle: Andromedotoxin. (Poisonous Plants of N.C.)
          Conspicuous Flowers: yes
          Attracts: Birds

          Value to Beneficial Insects

          Special Value to Bumble Bees

          This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.


          Description: Combine seeds loosely with sphagnum moss and sprinkle lightly over a 2:1 perlite/peat mixture. Germinate under mist or a plastic tent. Optimum temperatures for germination are 45-50 degrees. Transplant seedlings to acid soil with a high content of orga
          Seed Treatment: No pretreatment is necessary.
          Commercially Avail: yes

          Find Seed or Plants

          View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

          Mr. Smarty Plants says

          Shrub for barrier fence in Alexandria, Virginia
          August 19, 2009
          Hi. we need plants to act as a barrier fence, 15 feet tall, partial shade. We are considering a holly or virginia magnolia. What can you suggest? thank you, Nikita
          view the full question and answer

          National Wetland Indicator Status

          Status: FAC FAC FAC FAC
          This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1 (Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here for map of regions.

          From the National Organizations Directory

          According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is on display at the following locations:

          Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE


          Bibref 1620 - Gardening with Native Plants of the South (Reprint Edition) (2009) Wasowski, S. with A. Wasowski

          Search More Titles in Bibliography

          From the Archive

          Wildflower Newsletter 1988 VOL. 5, NO.2 - Researching Wildflower Seed Quality, Wildflower Center Receives $500 -000 Gift, ...
          Wildflower Newsletter 1992 VOL. 9, NO.1 - Research Update, Creating Native Lawn with Sod, Director's Report, What Makes Pl...

          Additional resources

          USDA: Find Rhododendron maximum in USDA Plants
          FNA: Find Rhododendron maximum in the Flora of North America (if available)
          Google: Search Google for Rhododendron maximum


          Record Modified: 2014-07-18
          Research By: TWC Staff

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