The scarlet form of Rhododendron arboreum is the National Flower of Nepal since 1962. In Nepal Rhododendron is also named as Gurash and that of National flower is named as Lali-Gurash. Color gradation in flowers varies from scarlet to pink and also the white. Under face of leaf also varies from silvery white to cinnamon and also to rusty brown. The tree occurs from 1,500 to 3,600 m all long the Himalaya from Kashmir to South East China and Myanmar. The plant starts blooming from February at lower elevation and finishes by May at higher altitudes. Best bloom is to be captured during March and April at altitudes between 2,200m-3,000m. More than 100 hilly parts of the high Himalaya region is covered by Rhododendron. The below mentioned paragraphs lighten the Rhododendron facts.
General Use of Rhododendron
Aesthetic value in horticulture is well known Rhododendron arboreum flowers are eaten raw by locals. Honey from rhododendron forest is intoxicating and can be poisonous.
Rhododendron wood burns easily and is sought for easy fuel wood. The wood is also good for making wooden utensils.
Flowers, fruits and seeds of Rhododendron
A typical flower has 10 male organs (stamens) and one female organ (pistil). Rhododendron pollens are drawn into a sticky mass, which adhere easily on bees, butterflies, insect and birds.
At the base of the pistil there is an ovary which develops into a fruit. The fruit opens to shed seeds.
How many Rhododendrons?
There are 700 species of Rhododendrons in the world and Nepal has 30% species representing 10% of the total species. Hybrid Rhododendrons account to thousands of varieties. Hybridization was made possible only due to the introduction of Rhododendron arboreum during the 19th century.
Varying stature of Rhododendron
Tallest species is Rhododendron arboreum (15m). Smallest species is Rhododendron nivale (10cm to 30cm) which occurs at 4500m-5500m.The word ‘nivale’ refers to snow. It is the world’s highest altitude record for woody plants.
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