Monday, August 30, 2010
Rhododendron (from the Greek: ροδον, rodon, meaning "rose", and δενδρον, dendron, meaning "tree") is a genus of flowering plants in the family Ericaceae. It is a large genus with over 1000 species and most have showy flower displays. It includes the plants known to gardeners as azaleas. It is the national flower of Nepal, the State flower of Sikkim, and the State Flower of both West Virginia and Washington in the USA.
The Rhododendron is a genus characterized by shrubs and small to (rarely) large trees, the smallest species growing to 10–100 cm tall, and the largest, R. giganteum, reported to over 30 m tall. The leaves are spirally arranged; leaf size can range from 1–2 cm to over 50 cm, exceptionally 100 cm in R. sinogrande. They may be either evergreen or deciduous. In some species the underside of the leaves is covered with scales (lepidote) or hairs (indumentum). Some of the best known species are noted for their many clusters of large flowers. There are alpine species with small flowers and small leaves, and tropical species such as section Vireya that often grow as epiphytes.