The rhododendron is the official state flower of West Virginia. It was designated the status on January 29, 1903. Public school children from the state selected the flower through a popular vote. The rhododendron is a shrub with pink and white flowers that bloom in late spring. It is also known as great laurel, great rhododendron, and American rhododendron. This species is native to the eastern regions of North America. The coast rhododendron, a variety of the rhododendron, is the designated official flower of Washington State.
Characteristic Of The Rhododendron Flowers
The rhododendrons are monoecious with inflorescence of between 15 and 30 funnel-shaped flowers. The flowers are five-lobed and about an inch long. Flowers range from pale pink to white but are occasionally deep pink to rose red. Each flower has eight stamens.
- The leaf of the rhododendron is evergreen, simple, pinnately veined, alternate, and between 4 to 10 inches. The leaves’ rolled edges curl during the winter.
- The fruits of the have many tiny seeds contained in a red-brown capsule that is 1/2 inch long. The fruits mature in October and split along five lines.
- The twigs are pale green in color with small vegetative buds enclosed in tiny leaves.
- The bark of the rhododendron is thin, smooth, and light brown when young. The bark breaks to thin scales when the stem matures.
Rhododendrons are common in West Virginia and throughout the eastern portion of the United States. The state flower flourishes on hillsides, ravines and under tree canopies of maples and hemlock. The success of the plant is partly attributed to the fact that it thrives in various climatic conditions including dense shades and sunny regions. The average height of the plant is 15ft, but some can grow to 40 feet.
Interesting Facts About The Rhododendron
- Rhododendron was first discovered in the 16th century by Charles l'Ecluse: a Flemish botanist.
- The flower was introduced to Britain in 1656 from the Alps then to America by the British.
- The Coast Rhododendron; a variety of the Rhododendron is the state flower of Washington\
- Rhododendron is the state flower of Sikkim, India, and the national flower of Nepal
- Every part of the rhododendron is dangerous. Ingesting the leaves, flowers, or the sap results in stomach irritation, abnormal heart rate, abdominal pain, convulsions, coma, and even death.