Rhododendron flowers are beautiful species that come in various shapes and forms. They can be a great addition to just about any garden, and you can mix and mash them with other beautiful plants.
However, despite their fantastic appearance, the genus holds a terrible secret. In this article, we’ll talk about the plant and its unique properties that make it stand out from other similar flowers.
Although most people don’t know this, the rhododendron genus features a large number of unique plants. So far, scientists have uncovered more than 1,200 species growing in various environmental conditions. The plant can be found in temperate regions of Europe, Asia, and North America, and tropical regions of Australia and Asia.
The biggest number of species can be found in Asia. In the wild, the flower can be found at more than 5,000 meters in elevation in mountains such as the Himalayas. Aside from alpine habitat, rhododendron bush is also present in rainforests, jungles, and broadleaved and coniferous woodland areas, making it one of the sturdiest, most versatile genera.
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Rhododendron plants come in all sorts of shapes and forms. For example, there are rhododendron flower species that are just a few centimeters off the ground and rhododendron trees that can reach 30 meters in height. Between these two variations, you also have a plethora of rhododendron bushes with interesting leaves and flower patterns.
Speaking of leaves, they can be from one centimeter to a hundred centimeters long. As you can presume, there’s also a lot of variety in terms of their shape; the plants’ leaves come in elliptical, rounded, and lance-tip forms. Flowers are also extremely diverse and can be orange, purple, blue, magenta, and a mixture of these colors.
Lastly, we also need to mention the differences in bark. Like all other parts of the plant, the plant’s bark can be significantly different in terms of color and texture depending on a particular species. Most rhododendron plants flower during March, April, and May, like other species, but there are also those that flower from October to January.
Due to all these features, gardeners love using different types of rhododendrons to bring life to their backyards. In fact, rhododendron is one of the most popular plants among growers, making it a perfect choice for temperate climates without excess rainfall.
Given there are so many rhododendron species in nature, we would have to write a separate book to mention them all. Because of that, we’ve decided to list a few of the best examples of this beautiful plant:
- April Rose (purple flower with a nice aroma)
- Blue Peter (lavender blue with bell-shaped flowers)
- Boule de Neige (sensitive white flower with small, green speckles)
- Ginny Gee (a beautiful combination of white and pink)
- Cold Prinz (yellow plant with characteristic shape)
- English Roseaum (pink and purple flowers that bloom in summer)
- Chionoides (white with yellow freckles, blooms during the spring)
- Nova Zembla (flower with intense red and pink color)
- Olga Mezitt (pink flowers that usually come in clusters of twelve)
- Rampapo (one of the smallest flowers on the list, blooms in purple)
Rhododendron plants can be a fantastic addition to any garden. If you live in Europe, Asia, or North America, you’ll likely be able to plant most species. The best thing about rhododendron is that it comes in various shapes and colors, so you can combine different species for a perfect garden mix.
The Rhododendron Blooming Cycle
Given there are so many different rhododendron plants out there, it’s hard to provide a straight answer to this question. If we were to generalize, different species bloom at different times of the year, so the basic care can vary significantly based on what you’re planting.
Similar to most other flora species, rhododendron usually blooms during the spring. However, there are also certain plant types that will grow during winter. For example, you might notice the first rhododendron bushes blooming when the winter comes along and start veining when the snow melts.
Except for the species, you also need to consider the local climate. The cycles might be affected by the surrounding environment changing how the plants behave. If you wish to stay on the safe side, we suggest you plant a few rhododendron seeds and monitor their progress throughout the year.
Keep in mind that many species are endemic, being contained to a certain locality, so your specific climate might not fit them well. In other words, don’t be surprised if the rhododendron flowers don’t show up at all.
The Dangerous Nature of Rhododendron Flowers
Despite their beautiful appearance, rhododendron plants can be a bit tricky to grow. Specifically, these plants are filled with grayanotoxins, an intoxicating substance that can be dangerous to smaller animals. Because of that, the plant isn’t ideal for families that have pet dogs and cats.
For the most part, flowers are the biggest culprit behind the poisoning, although you can also feel the effects after ingesting fruits and leaves. Grayanotoxins are so potent that even brief contact can lead to massive irritation and blotches all over your skin. Because of that, gardeners need to be extra careful when handling the species, always wearing gloves.
In case of ingestion, a person might experience the following issues:
- Stomach pain
In nature, rhododendron poisoning is prevalent during the winter months. Given that this is a resilient winter species, wild animals tend to nibble on their leaves when grass is scarce. After ingesting any plant material, animals will experience the above-mentioned symptoms, which sometimes result in death.
Keep in mind that your pet needs to ingest just 0.2% of its weight to experience these symptoms. Luckily, rhododendron poisoning in households is a rare occurrence as most dogs and cats don’t have the incentive to eat these plants. If you do notice that your pet is wobbly or vomiting, you should presume that it ingested a bit of the plant.
Honey from Rhododendron Flowers
Despite all the drawbacks, people have still found a way to capitalize on rhododendrons. Tribes living in secluded mountainous areas of Nepal have used the plant’s honey for several millennia to treat various ailments. The so-called “mad honey” is a potent substance that can improve digestion, reduce inflammation, and improve overall well-being.
This substance is made naturally by the Himalayan honey bees (by the way, this is the largest bee species in the world). These hard-working insects collect pollen from nearby rhododendron flowers and store it in their hives. Given the limited source of food in the mountains, the substance has become the main form of sustain for the species.
Local Nepalese honey hunters climb down the steep ledges, where honey bees create their hives, and collect the precious substance for their consumption. They use the honey as a natural medicine to treat various ailments affecting the tribe. Through modern trade channels, the substance has even reached Western consumers.
Besides medicinal characteristics, mad honey has another side to it. Given the large quantities of grayanotoxins, this type of food can cause a psychedelic effect similar to that of marijuana. Users will feel dizziness, altered consciousness, and a few other effects after eating the plant.
It’s worth noting that the impact of mad honey can vary based on numerous factors. Similar to other psychoactive substances, the effect will vary based on your tolerance, weight, and the quality of the product. Some types of honey will have a mild impact, while others can completely knock you down.
Although the psychoactive properties might sound fun, the Real Mad Honey team suggests caution. As previously mentioned, rhododendron flowers can cause some nasty symptoms, especially if you take excessive quantities. While extreme effects, such as loss of consciousness, are very rare, they can still occur.
Ideally, you should read our mad honey trip report to have a better understanding of how the substance works.
The good thing about mad honey gathering is that it falls under natural beekeeping policies. Nepalese honey hunters have strict policies when collecting this fantastic substance, ensuring that the bees’ habitat is never endangered. Furthermore, they don’t use any pesticides to stimulate the plant growth.
As a result, people who buy mad honey from our store can rest assured we haven’t tampered with the formula that has been around for millennia. There aren’t any volatile ingredients within the package, and you’ll get the same unbridled substance that Nepalese tribes use.
Rhododendron flower can be found in almost any corner of the world. Depending on the species, it can be grown in temperate or humid climates, in meadows or mountains. Although beautiful in appearance, the plant can be deadly for animals and even humans.
Perhaps the most intriguing thing about rhododendrons is that bees use them to create mad honey. This substance is filled with grayanotoxins, a hazardous substance that can cause mind-altering effects similar to those of marijuana.
If you’re interested in trying the psychoactive honey, you can find it in our store. We offer a natural product, which, besides psychoactive properties, shouldn’t cause any other significant effect on your body.