West Virginia State Flower
Big Rhododendron (common name)
Rhododendron maximum (scientific name)
The rhododendron became the West Virginia state flower in 1903. It’s a native plant very common in the state, and people enjoy the blossoms and their fragrance. Rhododendrons are bushes that grow from a number of stems that twine together, forming a trunk that can get up to one foot (0.3 m) thick. Branches are also twisted and heavy, and may droop down towards the ground. Leaves are often mostly at the branches’ ends, especially when the plants grow in a very shaded spot. The leaves are long, dark green ovals with a leathery texture. Rhododendron flowers are small but grow in rounded clusters, making the bushes very showy when in bloom.
The flowers are white to light pink, and frequently speckled with red or greenish-yellow near the centers. They are often fragrant, and are attractive to hummingbirds and butterflies. Though the plants have a relatively long flowering season, June is normally considered peak season for rhododendron flowers. Seeds mature in capsules containing between 300 and 400 seeds, each 1/32 inch (.8 mm) long.
Rhododendrons are usually evergreen. In cold weather, the leaves curl lengthwise. The roll gets tighter as the temperature drops, until the leaves are rolled in narrow cylinders, protecting them from wind and from losing too much moisture. The leaves also curl during droughts. Plants are long-lived, and can grow for 100 years. How big a plant will get is strongly dependent on how warm or cold the climate is. In warm climates, the bushes can grow up to 40 feet tall. In the coldest places Rhododendrons grow, however, they are rarely more than 3 feet (1 m) tall.
Plant: Multiple stems twisting into a trunk over time, oval leaves
Mature Height: 3–40 feet (1–12 m)
Flowering: March through August
Flowers: 1-inch (2.5–3 cm) diameter
Flower Color: White or pink
Leaves: 3–14 inches (8–35 cm) long and 0.8–3 inches (2–8 cm) wide; dark green, oval, and leathery
Fruit/Seed Color: Reddish brown
Location: Moist, cool, shaded or partly shaded areas with acidic soil in forests from sea level to 6,000 ft (1,830 m)
Range: Eastern North America from Georgia north to Quebec and Nova Scotia
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|Author: World Trade Press|