Hansen's Northwest Native Plant Database

Rhododendron macrophyllum (Pacific Rhododendron)


 Plantae Plants


 Tracheobionta Vascular plants


 Spermatophyta Seed plants


 Magnoliophyta Flowering plants


 Magnoliopsida Dicotyledons






 Ericaceae Heath family


 Rhododendron L. rhododendron


 Rhododendron macrophyllum D. Don ex G. Don Pacific rhododendron

Note: Throughout the years I've written short articles for our website's home pages (home pages are the front page of a website) about these plants. They are now included at the bottom of this page, and are illustrated by botanical drawings and paintings, some of which are from books published from 1500 - 1900.

A large, evergreen shrub with thick, oblong leaves and a rounded top.

They grow compact and dense in the open, and incredibly tall and leggy in the shade during their very long lives; expect heights of 7-8.'

Their shape makes them amenable to underplanting with ferns or smaller flowering plants.

In early spring or summer they erupt in flamboyant clusters of large, rose-purple/white flowers- every bit as spectacular as the cultivated varieties.

They need an acidic soil, so add elemental sulfur and peat moss to the planting hole and/or mulch with shredded oak leaves or pine needles.

They add a welcome splash of colour under conifers. Native from southern BC to California (USDA zones 6-9), they are the Washington State flower.

Photo above, center: Pacific Rhodies in front of Oregon State Capitol
      Photo from Chantal's blog, Rebound Road: Large, mature Rhododendron branches rooted on the hillside arch over trail below. http://reboundroad.blogspot.com/2010_05_01_archive.html



Photo above, right, by Robert Dunning.

From Homepage May 3, 2002

Undoubtedly the most commonly used northwest native shrub in the landscape is the Pacific Rhododendron (Rhododendron macrophyllum). The Oregon State Capitol building is surrounded by them, homes around the world have them in their yards, there are parks and conservatories devoted to showcasing their beauty. Why? Let me count the ways:

-The elegant foliage sets off their large clusters of orchid-like blooms.

-They can be left alone to grow more than 10 feet tall or trimmed in almost any shape desired.

-They are easy to grow, need minimal care and will even grow under conifers.

-They are outstandingly beautiful both cultured or "wild."

From Homepage May 6, 2005

Our Pacific Rhododendron is without doubt the queen of the woods (and the Willamette Valley) right now. One can see them blooming with abandon in yards and gardens, all around the Oregon state capitol building and creating a riotous display growing wild.

This is a northwest native shrub no landscape should be without. Even during a spring rain, the vibrance of this flowering shrub is unstoppable! It's no wonder beloved poet Ralph Waldo Emerson honored this glorious northwest native beauty in 1839 with this poem.

This photo is from Daderot Bank Wellesley MA Rhododendron Garden

The Rhodora

On being asked, Whence is the flower?

In May, when sea-winds pierced our solitudes, 
I found the fresh Rhodora in the woods, 
Spreading its leafless blooms in a damp nook, 
To please the desert and the sluggish brook. 
The purple petals, fallen in the pool, 
Made the black water with their beauty gay; 
Here might the red-bird come his plumes to cool, 
And court the flower that cheapens his array. 
Rhodora! if the sages ask thee why 
This charm is wasted on the earth and sky, 
Tell them, dear, that if eyes were made for seeing, 
Then Beauty is its own excuse for being: 
Why thou wert there, O rival of the rose! 
I never thought to ask, I never knew: 
But, in my simple ignorance, suppose 
The self-same Power that brought me there brought you.

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Contact:  star@chillirose.com ~ Copyright 2012 Wallace W. Hansen ~ All rights reserved