Enjoying Rhododendrons with kids and learning a few things, too!

Enjoying Rhododendrons with kids and learning a few things, too!

The Rhododendron ~ With its profusion of large, glorious flowers, the Rhododendron has found its way into cultivated landscapes as bushes, thickets and trees, but it also grows in the wild. Rhododendron colors are showy pinks, yellows, purples, reds and whites…

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~ A Rhododendron at my town library in Bristol, RI ~
~ A Rhododendron at my town library in Bristol, RI ~

The word Rhododendron derives from the Greek rhodon and dendron, meaning rose tree.  An obsolete form of the word Rhododendron is Rhododaphne, which certainly sounds lovely, too.

Rhododendrons are often used as ornamental shrubs, but some species can be pruned to encourage a tree-like structure.

In China, the species known as Rhododendron Protistum var. Giganteum has reached heights of 25m.  For good reason, this Rhododendron is called the Big Tree. Most unfortunately, only about 100 of these trees are thought to still exist and the Big Tree is considered Critically Endangered.

The Rhododendron Macrophyllum (Pink Coast, Pacific or Big Leaf Rhododendron) is the Washington state flower, chosen in 1892.  As the story goes, before they had the right to vote, Washington women selected the Coast “Rhodie” as the state flower because they wanted an official flower to enter into a floral exhibit at the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago. Six flowers were considered, two flowers were selected, voting booths were set up for ladies throughout the state and the Rhododendron won.  Way to go, ladies!

The Rhododendron Maximum (Great Laurel) is the West Virginia state flower. It was selected on January 29, 1903 by the Legislature, following a vote by pupils of the public schools. Pretty cool.

The Rhododendron is also the national flower of Nepal and the state flower of Sikkim in India.

The Rhododendron is known to symbolize caution.  Some Rhododendron species are highly toxic to humans and animals and caution should be noted when drawn to their luxuriant colors, size and beauty.

The Rhododendron is a pretty bloomin’ awesome flower to introduce to your kids.  Its blooms are easy to see and to recognize.  Tell your kids of the origin of the word Rhododendron, from the Greek rose tree.  Remember that kids love words.  Tell of the Big Tree and of state and national flowers.

Hey, why not research *YOUR state flower?  My home state, Rhode Island, has a very interesting State Flower origin. In 1897, the state’s school children choose the Violet as the state’s flower over 10 other flower candidates. Little did the children know that it would take until 1968 for the legislature to follow suit!

Getting kids involved in the fun of learning is what literacy is all about.  Have fun today with the Rhododendron and hopefully your State Flower, too.


Alabama Camellia
Alaska Forget-Me-Not
Arizona Blossom of the Saguaro Cactus
Arkansas Apple Blossom
California Golden Poppy
Colorado Rocky Mountain Columbine
Connecticut Mountain Laurel
Delaware Peach Blossom
Florida Orange Blossom
Georgia Cherokee Rose
Hawaii Yellow Hibiscus
Idaho Syringa
Illinois Native Violet
Indiana Peony
Iowa Des Wild Rose
Kansas Native Sunflower
Kentucky Goldenrod
Louisiana Magnolia
Maine White Pine Cone and Tassel
Maryland Black-Eyed Susan
Massachusetts Mayflower
Michigan Apple Blossom
Minnesota Pink and White Lady’s Slipper
Mississippi Magnolia
Missouri Hawthorn
Montana Bitterroot
Nebraska Goldenrod
Nevada Sagebrush
New Hampshire Purple Lilac
New Jersey Purple Violet
New Mexico Yucca
New York Rose
North Carolina Dogwood
North Dakota Wild Prarie Rose
Ohio Scarlet Carnation
Oklahoma Mistletoe
Oregon Oregon Grape
Pennsylvania Mountain Laurel
Rhode Island Violet
South Carolina Yellow Jessamine
South Dakota Pasqueflower
Tennessee Iris
Texas Bluebonnet
Utah Sego Lily
Vermont Red Clover
Virginia Dogwood
Washington Western Rhododendron
West Virginia Big Rhododendron
Wisconsin Wood Violet
Wyoming Indian Paintbrush

About Audrey

Audrey McClelland has been a digital influencer since 2005. She’s a mom of 5 and shares tips on her three favorite things: parenting, fashion and beauty. She’s also a Contemporary Romance Author.

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