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Rhododendron canadense (Rhodora)
Vick, Albert F. W.

Rhododendron canadense

Rhododendron canadense (L.) Torr.


Ericaceae (Heath Family)

Synonym(s): Azalea canadensis, Rhodora canadensis

USDA Symbol: RHCA6

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

Rhodora is a rather scrawny, erect-branched deciduous shrub that seldom grows over 3-4 ft. tall. Oval leaves are hairy underneath and distinctly gray-green. The principal beauty lies in the showy clusters of rose-purple flowers occuring in terminal clusters. The flowers are different from other member of the genus; the 3 upper lobes are almost united to the end and erect, the 2 lower lobes are oblong, divided and spreading.

This small northern shrub has very showy flowers that open before or with its leaves.


From the Image Gallery

9 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Breeding System: Flowers Bisexual
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 4 feet tall.
Leaf: Dark Green

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Pink , Purple
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May
Bloom Notes: Rose-purple to pink, rarely white.


USA: CT , MA , ME , NH , NJ , NY , PA , RI , VT
Canada: NB , NL , NS , ON , PE , QC
Native Distribution: Nf. to e. Ont., s. to e. PA & n. NJ
Native Habitat: Swamps; moist, high altitude woods

Growing Conditions

Water Use: High
Light Requirement: Sun , Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry , Moist , Wet
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
CaCO3 Tolerance: None
Soil Description: Cold, wet, acid or peaty soil.
Conditions Comments: Requires a cool climate. Good cultural practices reduce the incidence of disease and insect damage.


Use Wildlife: Bees
Use Food: done not eat
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: Butterflies
Larval Host: Columbia silkmoth

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Bumble Bees

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

Butterflies and Moths of North America (BAMONA)

Columbia silkmoth
(Hyalophora columbia)

Larval Host
Learn more at BAMONA


Description: Sow tiny seeds on peat under mist or a plastic tent.
Seed Treatment: No pretreatment is necessary.
Commercially Avail: yes

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 on display at the following locations:

Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE


Bibref 1186 - Field Guide to Moths of Eastern North America (2005) Covell, C.V., Jr.
Bibref 1185 - Field Guide to Western Butterflies (Peterson Field Guides) (1999) Opler, P.A. and A.B. Wright

Search More Titles in Bibliography

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2023-02-24
Research By: TWC Staff

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