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(rō'dədĕn`drən) [Gr.,=rose tree], any plant of the genus Rhododendron, shrubs of the family Ericaceae (heathheath,
in botany, common name for some members of the Ericaceae, a family of chiefly evergreen shrubs with berry or capsule fruits. Plants of the heath family form the characteristic vegetation of many regions with acid soils, particularly the moors, swamps, and mountain slopes
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 family) found chiefly in mountainous areas of the arctic and north temperate regions and also of the mountainous tropics. Encompassing more than 1,000 species, they are particularly abundant in Asia, whence many of the popular cultivated species and hybrids derive. They commonly have large, shining, leathery, evergreen, semievergreen, or deciduous leaves and clusters of large pink, white, or purplish flowers. Native American species include the great laurel, or rose bay (R. maximum), the common eastern species and the state flower of West Virginia; the mountain rose bay (R. catawbiense) of the southern mountains; and the western rhododendron (R. californicum), the state flower of Washington. The azaleaazalea
[Gr.,=dry], any species of the genus Rhododendron, North American and Asian shrubs of the family Ericaceae (heath family) that are distinguished by the usually deciduous leaves.
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 and the rhodora are names used for similar shrubs of the same genus with more typically deciduous leaves. Rhododendrons are classified in the division MagnoliophytaMagnoliophyta
, division of the plant kingdom consisting of those organisms commonly called the flowering plants, or angiosperms. The angiosperms have leaves, stems, and roots, and vascular, or conducting, tissue (xylem and phloem).
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, class Magnoliopsida, order Ericales, family Ericaceae.


See F. P. Lee, The Azalea Book (1965); C. L. Phillips, The Rothschild Rhododendrons (1967); J. Brown, Tales of the Rose Tree (2006).

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.



a genus of plants of the family Ericaceae. The plants are small trees or evergreen or deciduous shrubs. The leaves are alternate, entire, and often leathery. The bisexual, five-parted flowers, which have a large, slightly irregular corolla, are gathered into corymbiform or umbellate inflorescences. Less commonly the flowers are solitary. The fruit is a capsule, with numerous small seeds.

There are more than 600 species (according to other data, as many as 1,300), distributed mainly in the temperate zone of the northern hemisphere (predominantly in North America and the mountains of East Asia). The USSR has 20 species, found in the Far East, Siberia, and the Caucasus. R. dahuricum, a branched shrub measuring 0.5-2 m tall, has deciduous leaves and large (2-3 cm) solitary lilac-pink flowers. The species grows in the Far East and Eastern Siberia. R. kamtschaticum is a low deciduous shrub reaching a height of 35 cm and having purple or red flowers that measure up to 4 cm across. The plant grows in Northern Siberia, Kamchatka, Sakhalin, and the Kuril Islands. R. caucasicum, an evergreen shrub reaching a height of 1-1.5 m, has white or cream-colored flowers measuring 5 cm across. It grows in the high-mountain zone of the Caucasus. R. luteum (or Azalea pontica) is a deciduous, highly proliferating shrub. The plant is about 2 m tall and has fragrant yellow or orange flowers reaching 5 cm in diameter. It grows in the mountains of the Caucasus and in isolated areas in the Western European portion of the USSR.

Many species of rhododendron are ornamental. Numerous varieties and garden forms are grown in parks, rock gardens, conservatories, and homes (azaleas). The plants are propagated from seeds, cuttings, and scions. Many species of rhododendron are good nectar bearers, but their honey often is toxic.


Derev’ia i kustarniki SSSR, vol. 5. Moscow-Leningrad, 1960.
Leach, D. G. Rhododendrons of the World and How to Grow Them. London-New York, 1962.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


symbol of approaching pitfalls. [Flower Symbolism: Flora Symbolica, 177]
See: Danger


of Nepal. [Flower Symbolism: WB, 7: 264]


of Washington and West Virginia. [Flower Symbolism: Golenpaul, 644]
Allusions—Cultural, Literary, Biblical, and Historical: A Thematic Dictionary. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.


any ericaceous shrub of the genus Rhododendron, native to S Asia but widely cultivated in N temperate regions. They are mostly evergreen and have clusters of showy red, purple, pink, or white flowers
Collins Discovery Encyclopedia, 1st edition © HarperCollins Publishers 2005