Scientific name: Anthophyta: Dicotyledonae: Ericales: Ericaceae: Rhododendron maximum
Common Name: Information Sheet, Rosebay Rhododendron
Date: 24 June 2001
Photographer: E. M. Barrows
Identifier: E. M. Barrows
Collector: not applicable
Location: Dolly Sods
Keywords: A bush Forest Ecology information sheet Rhododendron maximum flower shrub tree
Information Sheet, Rosebay Rhododendron
Rhododendron maximum Carolus Linnaeus, Rosebay Rhododendron (Ericaceae, Heath Family)
(Sutton & Sutton 1985, plates 150, 437; Petrides 1988, plate 46; Kricher & Morrison 1998, 102)
To see more information about Rosebay Rhododendron on this Website, please use "keyword" Rosebay Rhododendron.
State flower of WV
Small tree, up to 39 feet tall (southern Appalachians); often 5–12 feet tall.
Trunk: ascending through often prostrate, crooked, short, up to 1 foot across.
Leaves: alternate, evergreen, large oblong, untoothed, leathery, margins rolled under, up to 10 inches long.
Crown: rounded, of stout, crooked branches.
Flowers: large, white through less often pink, in showy clusters.
General roles in forests.
Rosebay Rhododendons are autotrophs that generally live in forests, forest edges, successional areas, and yards.
This species is be common in some parts of the U.S. and sometimes forms dense pure thickets (sometimes called "The Hells" or "Rhododendron Hells") particularly along streams.
Many kinds of organisms consume dead and living Rosebay Rhododendon fruits, leaves, roots, and stems.
Specific roles in forests.
Leaf, root, and stem feeders (parasites) of Rhododendrons in general in the U.S. include 1 aphid sp., 1 bacterium sp., 4 beetle spp., 3 borer spp., 1 bug sp., 1 dodder sp., 43 fungus spp., 1 mealybug sp., 1 midge sp., 5 scale spp., 3 thrips spp., 1 wasp sp. (the European Hornet), 2 weevil spp., 1 whitefly sp., and the White-tailed Deer (Horst 1990, 795; Westcott 1973; personal observation).
Pollen and nectar feeders (parasites, pollinators, predators) are many kinds of arthropods including bee, flower-fly, moth, and wasp spp. Honey Bees make honey that is poisonous to Humans from nectar of Rosebay Rhododendron.
The Revenge of the Bees and Plants!
Did you see this Japanese horror movie? Some Rhododendron spp. might produce nectar that does not produce honey poisonous to Humans (Pellett 1978, 42).
White-tailed Deer favor its dense thickets as winter yarding areas (Grimm 1957, 317).
They heavily browse this species, but excessive quantities of it might fatally poison the Deer.
We grow this plant as an ornamental and shade tree in the Atlantic Provinces of Canada and parts of the US (Farrar 1995, 395).
People collect it by the carload for sale.
People often cut field-grown plants to the ground, and collect them for sale after they have regrown as compact bushes.
Some Humans use an oriental Rhododendron species as an aphrodisiac, to cure colds, to heal internal injuries, and strengthen kidneys (Stark 1980, 78).
Xylem: close grained, hard, heavy.
We use the wood for engravers' blocks (as a substitute for boxwood), fuel, and tool handles (Brown 1921, 305; Grimm 1957, 317).
Poisoning symptoms are the same as for Kalmia latifolia, which see.
Blooming patches of Rosebay Rhododendrons make spectacular displays on the Dolly Sods and elsewhere in the Appalachians.