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Rhododendron

(Rhododendron x superponticum)

Rhododendron © Deborah Long/Plantlife

Rhododendron © Deborah Long/Plantlife


Specifically the hybrid Rhododendron x superponticum, a non-native species that has become invasive in the British countryside.

Popular for its rapid growth and abundant purple flowers, this rhododendron was bred in Victorian times and very widely planted in gardens, estates and country parks.

Habitat

Rhododendron x superponticum causes problems in the wild in acid woodland and heathland.

What's the problem?

It reproduces readily from seed and has since spread rapidly across the UK, being most invasive in western and upland areas. It’s dense, evergreen foliage and rapid growth crowd out almost all other species and phenols from its leaves suppress the germination of seed.

Rhododendron is causing particular problems in the internationally important Atlantic woodlands of western Wales and Scotland, where rare lichen and moss communities are under threat. On Lundy Island in the Bristol Channel, rhododendron was threatening the endemic Lundy cabbage Coincya wrightii (and its associated endemic invertebrates) until a programme was started to eradicate it.

This species is listed on Schedule 9 of the Wildlife and Countryside Act in England and Wales therefore, it is also an offence to plant or otherwise cause to grow these species in the wild.