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|Rosebay Rhododendron, Great Laurel
|Rosebay rhododendron is a striking and aesthetically pleasing feature of mesic southern Appalachian forests. It is one of the largest and hardiest rhododendrons grown commercially. Several cultivars with white to purple flowers have been selected for the horticultural trade (Brown and Kirkman 1990). Where it occurs naturally, it produces a showy, white, pink, or light purple flower primarily in June, but occurs from March into August. Rosebay rhododendron maintains deep-green foliage year round. This species affords protection to steep watersheds and shelter for wildlife. The wood is very hard and is occasionally used for specialty wood products.
|Seeds from rosebay rhododendron are minute and it is estimated that approximately 11 million are contained in 1 kg. Commercial seed production is generally from cultivated hybrids. Seeds from wild sources are not commonly sold commercially. Rosebay rhododendron is a slow-growing shrub and has a very high sprout potential. If mechanical removal is attempted in the case of forest management, extremely high densities are attained by this species in a manner of a few years. Prescribed fire has also been used to control this species but with limited success (Clinton and Vose 2000).
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