This time of the year the Pacific or Coast Rhododendron are in full bloom almost everywhere in Western Washington, and take centerstage along sidewalks, road dividers and in gardens and parks.
The state flower of Washington, national flower of Nepal, provincial flower of Jiangxi, Rhododendron literally means ‘rose trees with big leaves.’
A medium to large evergreen shrub, the Pacific Rhododendron can grow up to 25 feet in the forests but in the open fields and gardens, it is relatively compact, especially in areas where it gets more sun.
Often pink and purple, sometimes vibrant red, orange or yellow or any shades in between, the huge flowers of the Rhododendron are showy, and exuberant in colors. However, the plant is highly toxic, and cannot be ingested.
There are more than 1000 species of Rhododendron, most of them found in Asia, including Japan, China, and India. While March, April, and May represent the peak months for flowering, some rhododendrons can flower as early as January, others as late as October.
Rhododendron share the same genus as the azaleas (another gorgeous flowering plant this time of year), but while all azaleas belong to the Rhododendron genus, not all Rhododendrons are azaleas.