Type of FlowerRhododendron:
Rhododendron is a genus of over 1,000 species of woody plants in the heath family, either evergreen or deciduous. Most species have showy flowers. Azaleas make up two subgenera of Rhododendron. They are distinguished from "true" rhododendrons by having only five anthers per flower.
Rhododendron is a genus characterised by shrubs and small to (rarely) large trees, the smallest species growing to 10–100 cm (3.9–39.4 in) tall, and the largest, R. protistum var. giganteum, reported to 30 m (98 ft) tall. The leaves are spirally arranged; leaf size can range from 1–2 cm (0.39–0.79 in) to over 50 cm (20 in), exceptionally 100 cm (39 in) in R. sinogrande.
They may be either evergreen or deciduous. In some species, the undersides of the leaves are covered with scales (lepidote) or hairs (indumentum). Some of the best known species are noted for their many clusters of large flowers. There are alpine species with small flowers and small leaves, and tropical species such as section Vireya that often grow as epiphytes. Species in this genus may be part of the heath complex in oak-heath forests in eastern North America.
Rhododendrons are extensively hybridized in cultivation, and natural hybrids often occur in areas where species ranges overlap. There are over 28,000 cultivars of Rhododendron in the International Rhododendron Registry held by the Royal Horticultural Society. Most have been bred for their flowers, but a few are of garden interest because of ornamental leaves and some for ornamental bark or stems. Some hybrids have fragrant flowers such as the Loderi hybrids, created by crossing R. fortunei and R. griffithianum.
Rhododendrons are grown commercially in many areas for sale, and are occasionally collected in the wild, a practice now rare in most areas. Larger commercial growers often ship long distances; in the United States, most of them are located on the west coast (Oregon, Washington state and California). Large-scale commercial growing often selects for different characteristics than hobbyist growers might want, such as resistance to root rot when overwatered, ability to be forced into budding early, ease of rooting or other propagation, and saleability.In the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, rhododendron flowers have been used for some time to make popular fruit and flower wines. The industry is promoted by the state government with tax benefits, looking to promote this industry as a full-fledged subclass of its economy.