Spring season is a season of flower and especially on the temperate hills and forests of Bhutan, variety of colours of rhododendron makes them so surreal and beautiful. In Bhutan we have a staggering record of 46 Rhododendron species and many of them are found in full bloom on the high passes like Dochula, Pelela, Phrumsengla etc. All 46 species of Rhododendrons can be found at Lampelri Botanical Park, with 18 species being native at the park.
While in JSWNP, often as I take the trails to the mountains, the beauty of the rhododendrons would welcome us and that was always mesmerizing. Of the many journeys I had undertaken, I am glad to have one of the journeys reflected in my blog, entitled “The Rhododendron Trail, an Arduous Hike worth a Hike” recording 8 species of Rhododendrons that were found blooming on that trail.
|Winter Frost and the Rhododendrons|
When I had my first class in one of the lecture halls in the Botanical garden, I saw a couple of rhododendron shrubs. Since it was towards winter, the plants look so dull and it really didn’t attract my attention. However towards the peak winter when there was snow fall, I really felt the sensation of being in the higher mountains where snow would cover up the floor of the rhododendrons. It was that time that I was curious to see the rhododendrons in full bloom as, the rhododendrons being native to Asian regions I was not very sure if the plants would bloom.
What was really enthralling was when I first saw the bud of one of the larger rhododendron opening, to give beautiful red petals. Since then I waited to see the rest of the rhododendrons bloom and regularly moved around to see the diversity of rhododendrons that are reared in the Botanical garden. I am amazed to see around 15 species of Rhododendron in the garden, and almost all of them have bloomed by now.
The first rhododendron that bloomed this season. It is one of the tallest rhododendron shrubs found here and it is native to China found between elevation of 1600-2300 masl. Initially it was reddish but as the petals ages, it turns whitish. Its leaves are oblong and slightly curved.
This is also a larger shrub and the flower resembles to Rhododendron sutchuenense with narrow leaves. It is also native to China, found in same habitat as above species.
This species which is native to Korea and Japan and as of now, it has not flowered. It have larger oblong leaves and it is a medium height shrub species.
This species is also found in Bhutan and it have shiny, small and oblong/rounded green leaves but with fuzzy underneath. It bears pinkish white flowers.
This species is native to the United States and is now found widespread as ornamental plant. In the botanical garden, it has not yet bloomed. Its leaves are quite long and broad and it would bear pink-purple flowers.
This rhododendron is an evergreen shrub that grows just above the tree line in the Alps so its height is small. The plant has not yet bloomed but the leaves are narrow and shiny. It is described as moderately toxic.
This rhododendron species is native to China, where it grows at altitudes of 600–2,000 masl. It is a medium to large sized shrub and bears pinkish white flowers. Leaves are quite large and oblong.
This species is native to northeastern Inida and Southern Tibet growing at altitudes of 2400–3600 meters. Looking into its range it should be found in Bhutan but it is not recorded. It has pink flowers and leaves are medium sized and oblong.
It is a small shrub, up to 4 feet tall at maturity, native China, and grows between altitudes of 2400–4800 masl. It resembles Rhododendron setosum found in Bhutan with purple flower, and leaves small and long.
This is also a low altitude Rhododendron growing between 700-2000 masl native to China. It is a medoum sized shrub species. Here the plant has not yet flowered but it would have pink flowers. Leaves are medium sized with oblong or ovulate shapes.
This is a small shrub species bearing reddish purple flowers and leaves quite similar to Rhododendron hippophaeoides. It is also native to China.
This plant has very bright red, pink flowers and leaves are smaller and glossy. This plant is mentioned as a poisonous plant.
This is a medium sized shrub native to Myanmar and China. It is with lanceolate or oblong-ovate leaves. It has pinkish white flowers.
This species is native to central and northwestern Yunnan in China, where it grows at altitudes of 3000–4300 masl. It is small sized shrub with elliptic or oblong leaves. Flowers are purple-blue.
15. Unknown species
This medium sized species is not tagged and it is in full blossom with white flowers.