Stamped in scarlet

The Rhododendron is a small tree or shrub growing up to about 3m. It has a characteristic gnarled and dwarfed appearance. The bark is dark grey, thick and furrowed. The branches are stout and twisted.

The leaves of the Rhododendron are oblong or oval and pointed at the apices. They are shiny and dark green with clearly marked veins. The leaves are crowded at the ends of the branches, and also crowded below the flowers, making them look like a posy. The young leaves of the Rhododendron are poisonous if ingested, but they can be used externally for headaches.

The flowers are scarlet and trumpet-like in shape and appear in bunches like a posy.

The flowering season is from April to July. The fruits are woody, hard capsules, which split into five segments to disperse the seeds.

The Rhododendron is endemic to Sri Lanka and is found in the wet patanas of the montane zone where they are common.

Look out for it in the mountains of the Knuckles or in Horton Plains. It can be easily recognised by its gnarled appearance and the numerous bunches of red flowers.

Ruk Rakaganno (The Tree Society), 2554438 or

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