Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Great Laurel - Rhododendron maximum (Rosebay Rhododendron)

The Great Laurel - Rhododendron maximum is also commonly known as the Rosebay Rhododendron. The Great Laurel is most easily recognized by the mostly white flowers and evergreen leaves with wedge shaped base.  It is a large evergreen shrub or small tree that reaches heights of only 35 feet.  It is native to low woods areas, stream banks, forest and low slopes from 0-1900 m from Nova Scotia through Maine in the North, South to Georgia, West to Ohio, Kentucky and Tennessee.  

Image Citation: Richard Gardner, UMES,

The leaves of the Great Laurel are alternate, simple, narrow or broadly elliptic, the base is wedge shaped and tip pointed and a lustrous green in color.  The flower is Corolla white and often has a pink tinge with green or yellow spots.  The petals are united and cup like below, spreading and overlapping above, occurring in Spring to early Summer.  The fruit occurs in late Summer to early Autumn and is an elongated capsule 8-20 mm long, glandular hairy.

Image Citation: Chris Evans, University of Illinois,

Great Laurel can be found at larger nurseries and is recommended for hardiness zones 3-7.  The leaves are poisonous, if ingested they can cause convulsions and can lead to a coma. This plant has a thicket forming habit and when grown in mass planting or the ideal locations it can become impenetrable.

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