Rhododendrons are bursting out ALL OVER this spring. I see them everywhere I go including our home, and they are so lovely! The first time I ever saw a Rhododendron was at the home of a relative. It never bloomed so I thought it was just a green shrub. An easy to grow and easy to care for shrub that looked lovely in the landscaping. Turns out it was much more than that! Come spring, they burst out with magnificent floral beauty!
According to Dictionary.com, these plants are "any evergreen or deciduous shrub or tree belonging to the genus Rhododendron, of the heath family, having rounded clusters of showy, pink, purple, or white flowers and oval or oblong leaves." AND they are related to another family fave – the Azalea.
These flowers are truly lovely but they do come with some caveats.
While the Pollen Library lists the California Rhododendron as "Allergenicity: No allergy has been reported for California Rhododendron (Rhododendron macrophyllum) species." and the Allergy Care site recommends it for a low-allergy garden, the plant is poisonous.
According to the Veterinary Medicine Library in Illinois, "All parts of this plant contain toxic resins (andromedotoxins, now commonly referred to as grayanotoxin) with the leaves being the most potent." And the ASPCA warns that they are, "Toxic to Dogs, Toxic to Cats, Toxic to Horses." (goats too as a good friend found out while goat-sitting!) "If your pet ingested this plant, contact your local veterinarian or the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at 888-426-4435.*
Yes, sadly, these lovely flowers can also be a danger to children. Most of my grandkids are old enough to know better, but still, it would be wise for me (and you) to let them know NEVER to play games with the leaves or flowers from these delightful flowers. And, of course, it's always wise to keep the the Poison Control phone number handy – For emergencies and information call toll free 1-800-222-1222 anywhere in the U.S. or click here to find the local number in your area.
All in all, though, these flowers are a true delight to all. And my senior mom and I will continue to enjoy the lovely sights we see in our yard and around our neighborhood. What's your favorite spring site this sweet spring-ly week?