Rhododendron maximum

Evergreen shrub found in shady moist woods

Rhododendron maximum rosebay

Plant grows in the wild/spontaneouslyPlant is native to PA

This understory evergreen shrub of moist or hemlock-dominated forests is a member of the heath family.  In PA the size of this shrub is 5-15 feet tall and 5-12 feet wide. In ideal habitats especially in the southern mountains it can grow to twice this size and form dense thickets. It normally has a round, domed shape. The shrub blooms in June and July, producing clusters or rose-purplish flowers about 2 inches in diameter. Some plants produce flowers that are pink or white. They generally have olive green or orange spots. The fruit is an oblong seed capsule that splits open when dry to release numerous seeds.

The evergreen leaves are large and leathery, about 4-8 inches long with a rusty-orange underside. The shrub does best acidic rich soil with lots of humus and that is well drained. Its preference is for full or partial shade. The trunk and branches are short and crooked. It can be subject to various fungus diseases and insect damage but in the right environment can remain healthy.

The plant can propagate by seed or by stem or root cuttings. In nature it can spread by layering, the formation of roots where the stems touch the ground.

Alternate common names are great laurel, American rhododendron, or great rhododendron. It is commercially available and is sometimes planted outside its natural range.

Contributed by: Mark Welchley

Grows in moist woods, swamps, swamp edges.

Found in all parts of the state besides the very northern counties.

Range: Native to the Appalachian belt, ranges from Alabama to Nova Scotia

Wetland codes

Flowers late June through July.

Leaves  entire and leathery.

Flowers  white/pink, upper lobes often green-spotted.

Green-spotted upper lobes of  flower petals 

S-rank:  S5 (Secure)
G-rank:  G5 (Secure)

Rhododendron maximum rosebay

Plant grows in the wild/spontaneouslyPlant is native to PA
Rhododendron maximum gallery
Plant Life-Form
evergreen shrub
Common Names
rosebay great laurel