West Virginia sits in the heart of the Application Mountain Range and is blanketed in forests. In 1903, the school children of the state voted that the state floral emblem should be the Rhododendron maximum, also known as American rhododendron, great rhododendron, and great laurel. There are different Rhododendrons native to many parts of the world, and this variety is native to eastern North America.
The Rhododendron maximum is a very popular landscaping plant due to its showy blooms, easy-care, and evergreen leaves that provide color all winter long. In the late spring, it blooms large clusters of flowers that can be white or a variety of shades of pink. Though beautiful, all parts of this plant are poisonous so they should be kept away from livestock and pets. Rhododendrons are monoecious, meaning they have both male and female sex organs in one plant, increasing the likelihood of successful pollination. When they are blooming, they are a favorite amongst pollinators and you’ll find them covered in butterflies and bumblebees.