RHODODENDRON (Rhododendron ponticum)
Rhododendron ponticum is the most naturalised and familiar of Ireland's land based invasive plants. Its native range is across Turkey, Lebanon, Bulgaria, the Caucasus, Spain and Portugal. First introduced for ornamental horticulture in 1763, it was recorded in the wild in the UK as early as 1894, and was subsequently planted for both its own merit and as a stock for grafting. The plant is now highly invasive in Ireland, particularly across western counties and many upland and mountainous regions.
Extract from the Non Native Species Secretariat Identification Sheet for Rhododendron
Rhododendron is strictly confined to acid soils, and its habitats include moorland, woods, screes, rocky banks, derelict gardens and streamsides. Its dense thickets shade out indigenous plants, preventing regeneration of trees in woods and eliminating ground vegetation on open moorland. It is poisonous to livestock, cannot be controlled by grazing, and is host to disease organisms which attack oak and beech. It is an evergreen shrub growing up to 5m, has colourful violet to purple flowers, is pollinated by insects, and each flower head can produce between 3000 and 7000 seeds which can be dispersed up to 100m by wind or water under favourable weather conditions.
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