Rhododendron The plant rhododendron belongs to the family Ericaceae which also includes the Heath, and there are about eight-hundred fifty species which grow worldwide (Turner and Szczawinski, 171-2). The Heath family is a large one with so many species, all of the poisonous species fall into two of its subfamilies, one of which is the rhododendron. These cultivated plants occur naturally in temperate regions of the northern hemisphere and in the mountains of Southeast Asia. They are located in the Himalayas with seven-hundred species, southwest China, Burma, and in New Guinea with over three-hundred species (Turner and szczawinski, 172). It has been popular as ornaments in gardens and has led to a major horticultural industry with its widely uses in landscaping. There are twenty-seven species native to North America, (Turner,172) and is the state plant of Washington. This specific plant is called R. macrophyllum or the Pacific rhododendron (Pojar and Mackinnon, 61). It forms a shrub layer in forests ranging from shoreline pine groves to stands of Douglas-fir and western Hemlock up in the mountains. Usually they are located everywhere from homes to freeway sides and also in the forests. The rhododendron shows a great variety in size, habit, and flower color, colors from white to pink, dark-purple, yellow, red, and orange (McKenzi,1). They range from small shrubs to small trees with evergreen leaves that are leathery. The leaves are short stalked, simple, and alternate, and the flowers are large, bell-shaped, and born in dense clusters. They are best grown on acidous soil with a ph of 4.5 and 6.5, included with lots of moisture and organic material (McKenzie, 3). The leaves, flowers, pollen, and nectar of many rhododendron species contain several toxins (Kingsbury, 50). These toxins are called grayanotoxins or andromedotoxin, a resinoid carbohydrate (Kingsbury, 51). It is prevale…
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