The previous owner of our house had a huge fondness for rhododendrons. So we have them in many shapes and sizes, and with a huge variety of colors: from yellow (an Azalea) and white, to lilac and deep purple.

Consequently, we have many bumblebees in the garden, because bumblebees are not affected by the poison in these plants, to which several other bee species are susceptible.

All parts of Rhododendron species (including the leaves, flowers and pollen) contain greater or lesser amounts of the toxic compound andromedotoxin (also known as grayanotoxin). Rarely lethal to humans (and used medicinally in some herbal disciplines), this compound causes dose-dependant overstimulation of the central nervous system. Symptoms include various cardiovascular effects (mainly low blood pressure and cardiac rhythm disorders); nausea and vomiting; and a change in consciousness. The effects commence shortly after ingestion and last around two days. These effects are also transferred to honey made from the nectar of the flowers. In some parts of the world bees are used to deliberately produce a honey rich in andromedotoxin which is then eaten for its supposed medicinal, hallucinogenic and aphrodisiac effects.
In contrast to humans, many other creatures are more susceptible to the toxin and it has sometimes proved lethal to grazing animals and household pets. Some forms of honeybees are also killed by the toxin (resistant forms of the bee are used for honey production). Bumblebees are not affected, however, and are also more efficient in pollinating rhododendron flowers, so one theory is that the toxin is produced by the plant in order to favour the bumblebee and improve fertilization rates.

Temperate Plants Database, Ken Fern. temperate.theferns.info. 2024-05-26

So humans are not very sensitive to that poison. And the Rhododendron has several medicinal uses (as most poisonous plants do). Besides that, we like the tea of the leaves (fresh or dried) very much. Theoretically a poisonous tea... 😉

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The previous owner of our house had a huge fondness for rhododendrons. So we have them in many shapes and sizes, and with a huge variety of colors: from white and yellow (an Azalea) to lilac and deep purple.

Consequently, we have many bumblebees in the garden, because bumblebees are not affected by the poison in these plants, to which several other bee species are susceptible.

Humans are not very sensitive to that poison, and besides the fact that the Rhododendron has several medicinal uses, we like the tea of the leaves (fresh or dried) very much.
Poisonous Rhododendron

Poisonous Rhododendron is a new artwork in my collection Floral Souls.

Prints are available in my Saatchi Art portfolio at the artwork page, or buy a print directly from me by contacting me for a quote including shipping costs to your home.

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