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Word Nerd: Rhododendron

By Ryan Hume

Published on May 18, 2017 12:01AM

Rhododendron [roʊ •də•dɛn•drən]


1. any flowering shrub belonging to the genus Rhododendron, part of the heather or heath family. Related to the azalea, the rhododendron can be either evergreen or deciduous, is often used for ornamental planting. And their charming, bulbous flowers — which can bloom in either white, pink or purple — are mildly poisonous.


Enters English around 1600 borrowed wholesale from the French, which in turn was borrowed verbatim from the Latin, rhododendron, which is a direct translation of the Old Greek ῥόδον, meaning rhódon, or “rose,” plus δένδρον, meaning déndron, or “tree,” which means that rhododendron has literally meant “flower tree” for over two thousand years, though in the Pacific Northwest they are often referred to as a “rhody.”

“The largest Pacific rhododendron, R. macrophyllum, is in the garden of Jeff and Wendy Grant, on the banks of Collard Lake in Florence, a press release said.”

—​“Florence couple has largest rhododendron ‘tree,’” The World, June 5, 2008, theworldlink.com

“Problem: My rhododendron is suffering from root weevil, both adult and larvae.

Suggestion: Use beneficial nematodes; use chemical control as a last resort.”

—“ Master gardeners hold summer plant clinic in Ilwaco,” Coast Weekend, Aug. 17, 2015


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