Virginia Tech Dendrology

great rhododendron Ericaceae Rhododendron maximum L. Listen to the Latin play symbol: RHMA4
Leaf: Alternate, evergreen, simple, elliptical, 4 to 10 inches long, pinnately veined, entire margins or slightly revolute, leathery, dark green above and paler with rust-colored hair below.
Flower: Species is monoecious; showy, pale pink or white with a corolla of five rounded petals, occur in large clusters (5 to 8 inches across) in late spring to early summer.
Fruit: Red-brown elongated capsule (1/2 inch long), splitting along five lines, containing many tiny seeds, borne in a long-stemmed cluster, maturing in fall.
Twig: Stout, yellow-green in color, often with reddish brown hair; vegetative buds are small, appearing enclosed in tiny leaves, ovate shaped flower buds are quite large (1/2 inch), enclosed in green rusty, pubescent scales.
Bark: Thin, light brown and smooth when young; broken into thin scales on older stems.
Form: A large shrub or small tree with several twisted stems that may form an impassable, dense thicket up to 20 feet tall.
Looks like: Catawba rhododendron - southern magnolia - mountain laurel
leaf flower fruit twig bark form1 map
Additional Range Information: Rhododendron maximum is native to North America. Range may be expanded by planting. See states reporting great rhododendron.
External Links: USDAFS Additional Silvics - USDA Plants Database
All material © 2017 Virginia Tech Dept. of Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation; Photos and text by: John Seiler, Edward Jensen, Alex Niemiera, and John Peterson