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Bransford, W.D. and Dolphia
Rhododendron maximum L.
Great laurel, Wild rhododendron, Rosebay rhododendron, White laurel, Rosebay
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.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Shrub Leaf:
Dark Green Flower:
Brown Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Pink
Bloom Time: Jun
, WV Canada: NS Native Distribution:
s., especially in the mts., s. to n. GA Native Habitat:
Moist, dense woods; steep stream banks; mountain slopes
Growing ConditionsWater 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.
BenefitWarning: 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
PropagationDescription: 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
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?
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National Wetland Indicator Status
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 either on display or available from the following:
Mt. Cuba Center
- Hockessin, DE
Record Last Modified: 2013-09-08
Research By: TWC Staff