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Rhododendron catawbiense (Catawba rosebay)
Cressler, Alan

Rhododendron catawbiense

Rhododendron catawbiense Michx.

Catawba Rosebay, Purple Rhododendron, Red Laurel, Catawba Rhododendron, Mountain Rosebay

Ericaceae (Heath Family)


USDA Symbol: rhca8

USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

A mound-shaped, broadleaf evergreen shrub, 6-20 ft. tall, with stout, picturesque, ascending branches. The foliage is dense, thick, glossy and dark green, often in winter developing a yellow-green cast. The numerous bell-shaped, rosy-lilac flowers occur in dense, terminal clusters. An evergreen shrub with clusters of large, rose or purple-lilac, funnel-shaped flowers.

This attractive flowering shrub with southern affinities forms dense thickets on mountain slopes. Frequently used as an ornamental, it has been hybridized with the less hardy Himalayan species to produce some of our most spectacular showy rhododendrons.


From the Image Gallery

18 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Evergreen
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Breeding System: Flowers Bisexual
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 20 feet tall, often shorter.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: Pink , Purple
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun


USA: AL , GA , KY , MA , NC , SC , TN , VA , WV
Native Distribution: VA to KY, s. to GA & AL
Native Habitat: Mountain woods; rocky slopes

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Shade
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
Soil Description: Various well-drained soils.

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

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
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

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

From the Archive

Wildflower Newsletter 1998 VOL. 15, NO.5 - Native Shrubs Providing Landscape Heritage and Habitat, Executive Director\'s Re...

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2023-04-03
Research By: TWC Staff

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