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Best time to travel to Washington

Pacific Rhododendron

The state flower of Washington colors the slopes pink every spring

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Wild Pacific Rhododendron, also called coast rhododendron, is a beautiful native shrub of the Pacific Northwest that starts to bloom in late April and early May on low elevations and late May to late June on higher elevations in the mountains. The flowering shrub grows along the coast of California, Oregon, Washington, and into British Columbia. Seeing these beautiful outbursts of pink color in the forests and on the slopes of the mountains is one of the greatest awards for local hikers who call them "rhodies."

Pacific Rhododendrons are most common on the Olympic Peninsula that lies in the north-western part of Washington state, being separated from the Seattle urban area by Puget Sound. The vast Olympic National Forest that covers an area of 628,115 ac (254,189 ha) features dozens of trails with rhododendron viewing. The most popular ones include Mt Walker and Mt Townsend trails with "rhodies" blooming in May and June.

Wild rhododendrons are also abundant along the Hood Canal, the natural fjord that stretches from Foulweather Bluff preserve to Union, Washington. Rhododendrons grow in drier parts of the Hood Canal in May. The flower likes sunlight, so you can surely find it in the coniferous forests around the area, as well as around open sunny places and along roads. Douglas fur forests and rhododendrons usually go together.

Rhododendron macrophyllum leaves and flowers are toxic. There have been cases of people poisoned by honey collected by bees in areas where rhododendrons thrive. The large rhododendron leaves can roll inward helping the plant to survive dry periods and freezing times.

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Last updated: by Olha Savych