The rhodora is known by three botanical names depending on who you ask; Rhododendron canadense, Rhodora canadensis, or Azalea canadensis. It is from the heath, or Ericaeae, family of plants and it is native to the United States.
This perennial shrub grows three to four feet high with erect branches. It has dark green oval leaves with a hairy gray-green underside. Flowers are in clusters and are rose, purple, or pink in color. They are quite showy. The flowers will bloom before the leaves come out, or during. Bloom season is between April and May.
The rhodora prefers to grow in full sun or partial shade conditions with an acidic soil. It is tolerant of any soil, but prefers moist soil. Propagate by seed without pretreatment. It should be in a cool climate.
This native is found throughout the states of Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont. It is found in moist woodlands and in swamps.
It should not be eaten nor should honey made from its flowers be eaten. It is a poisonous plant, in all parts, with the highly toxic andromedotoxin. Symptoms of this toxicity include paralysis, coma, vomiting, depression, weakness, salivation, fatigue, and difficulty breathing.
Butterflies are attracted to this plant, particularly the Columbia silkmoth. It is used by the Columbia silkmoth as a larval host plant.