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Rhododendron lapponicum (Lapland rosebay)
Mininberg, David T.

Rhododendron lapponicum

Rhododendron lapponicum (L.) Wahlenb.

Lapland Rosebay, Lapland Rhododendron

Ericaceae (Heath Family)


USDA Symbol: rhla2

USDA Native Status: L48 (N), AK (N), CAN (N), GL (N)

A low, mat-forming, evergreen shrub with scaly twigs and few-flowered clusters of bell-shaped, pink to purple flowers. Lapland Rhododendron is an aromatic, mat-forming, dwarf shrub, often only 2 in. high; seldom more than 12 in. high. Close-ranked, oblong, dark-green leaves with rusty scales occur on the thick stems and knotty branches. One to five, fragrant flowers appear in terminal clusters at the ends of the branchlets.

This little, mat-forming shrub is one of the first showy alpine species to flower. It is found on the peaks of higher New England mountains such as Mount Washington, New Hampshire, and the Adirondack peaks of New York. It also grows in the Wisconsin Dells.


From the Image Gallery

1 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 2 feet tall, often much shorter.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Pink , Purple
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun , Jul , Aug , Sep
Bloom Notes: Rose pink to purple, sometimes white.


USA: AK , CT , ME , NH , NY , WI
Canada: NL , NS , ON , QC
Native Distribution: Arctic & sub-arctic N. Am., s. to Mt. Katahdin, ME; Presidential Range, NH; Adirondacks, NY; & the Wisconsin Dells
Native Habitat: Limestone slopes; rocky tundra & barrens

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Part Shade
Soil Moisture: Dry
Soil pH: Alkaline (pH>7.2)
CaCO3 Tolerance: High
Soil Description: Dry, limey soil.


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

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: Sow seed in sandy loam and cover with a thin layer of sand. Can be transplanted as soon as the plant can be handled.
Seed Treatment: No pretreatment is necessary.
Commercially Avail: yes

Find Seed or Plants

View propagation protocol from Native Plants Network.

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.

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 34 - Go Botany (2019) Native Plant Trust
Webref 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

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


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

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