Herbs & Plants

Rhododendron maximum

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Botanical Name : Rhododendron maximum
Family: Ericaceae
Genus: Rhododendron
Subgenus: Hymenanthes
Species: R. maximum
Kingdom: Plantae
Order: Ericales

Synonyms: Rhododendron  procerum.

Common Names: Rosebay Rhododendron, Great laurel
Alternate common names:
*Great rhododendron
*Late rhododendron
*Summer rhododendron
*Great laurel
*Bigleaf laurel
*Deertongue laurel
*Rose tree
*Rose bay
*Mountain laurel
Habitat : Rhododendron maximum is native to the Appalachians of eastern North America, from Nova Scotia south to northern Alabama. It grows on damp places along streams, edges of bogs and ponds, woods and mountain slopes to 900 metres, often forming impenetrable thickets.
Rhododendron maximum is an evergreen shrub growing to 4 m (13 ft), rarely 10 m (33 ft), tall.The leaves are 9–19 cm (3–8 in) long and 2–4 cm (0.75-1.5 in) broad. The flowers are 2.5–3 cm (1 in) diameter, white, pink or pale purple, often with small greenish-yellow spots. The fruit is a dry capsule 15–20 mm (.60-.79 in) long, containing numerous small seeds. The leaves can be poisonous. Leaves are sclerophyllous, simple, alternate, and oblong (10 to 30 cm long, 5 to 8 cm wide). It retains its waxy, deep-green leaves for up to 8 years, but once shed are slow to decompose. It produces large, showy, white to purple flowers each June.


It is in leaf 12-Jan and is in flower from Jun to July, and the seeds ripen in October. The flowers are hermaphrodite (have both male and female organs) and are pollinated by Bees.

Succeeds in a most humus-rich lime-free soils except those of a dry arid nature or those that are heavy or clayey. Prefers a peaty or well-drained sandy loam. Succeeds in sun or shade, the warmer the climate the more shade a plant requires. A pH between 4.5 and 5.5 is ideal. Hardy to about -30°c. Succeeds in a woodland though, because of its surface-rooting habit, it does not compete well with surface-rooting trees. Plants need to be kept well weeded, they dislike other plants growing over or into their root system, in particular they grow badly with ground cover plants, herbaceous plants and heathers[200]. Plants form a root ball and are very tolerant of being transplanted, even when quite large, so long as the root ball is kept intact. Plants in this genus are notably susceptible to honey fungus.
Seed – best sown in a greenhouse as soon as it is ripe in the autumn and given artificial light. Alternatively sow the seed in a lightly shaded part of the warm greenhouse in late winter or in a cold greenhouse in April. Surface-sow the seed and do not allow the compost to become dry. Pot up the seedlings when they are large enough to handle and grow on in a greenhouse for at least the first winter. Layering in late July. Takes 15 – 24 months. Cuttings of half-ripe wood, August in a frame. Difficult

Medicinal Uses:
The poulticed leaves are used to relieve arthritic pain, headaches etc. A decoction of the leaves is occasionally employed internally in domestic practice in the treatment of rheumatism. The leaves are taken internally in controlled dosage for the treatment of heart ailments. Caution is advised, see the notes below on toxicity.

Other Uses:
Wood – fine-grained, hard, heavy, strong, rather brittle. It weighs 39lb per cubic foot. Used for tool handles and as a boxwood (Buxus spp.) substitute in engraving

Rhododendron maximum is the state flower of the U.S. state of West Virginia.

Known Hazards; The leaves are poisonous. Ingestion can cause convulsions and coma. The pollen of many if not all species of rhododendrons is also probably toxic, being said to cause intoxication when eaten in large quantities.

Disclaimer : The information presented herein is intended for educational purposes only. Individual results may vary, and before using any supplement, it is always advisable to consult with your own health care provider.