Phylum: Magnoliophyta - Class: Equisetopsida - Order: Ericales - Family: Ericaceae
This popular evergreen garden shrub is native to southern Europe and parts of Asia, but it has become naturalised in the British and Irish countryside and is now widespread and common throughout most of Britain and Ireland.
The brief period of beauty of Rhododendron ponticum in bloom (usually in May and June) carries a high price: they spread rapidly and provide very poor habitat for wildlife. Because they let so little light through to the ground, smaller plants cannot survive beneath the canopy of Common Rhododendron.
Common Rhododendron has invaded many woodland areas of Britain and have even colonised the banks of small streams, denuding them of in-stream and marginal plants.
Management of this invasive alien introduction is costly and difficult, but with persistence it can be done. For example, at Ynys Hir, in the Dyfi Valley in mid Wales, RSPB and Environment Agency Wales have cleared Common Rhododendron from some twelve hectares of heathland and bog to allow native species to recolonise the area.
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