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Big tree rhododendron

Latin name: Rhododendron protistum var. giganteum

Areas: | China |

IUCN Red List conservation status

About: Big tree rhododendron

“Rhododendrons are known for their beauty but this giant really is a magnificent tree. Although it appears there are very few left in the wild, the good news is that they are in a nature reserve and the staff there are keen to protect and restore the species.

The Global Trees Campaign is helping them to do so – identifying why the species is not reproducing successfully and building on local pride in the tree to improve its protection.”

Dr Georgina Magin

FFI Global Trees Campaign

An image relating to Big tree rhododendron

The largest rhododendron in the world, hence the name, is the big tree rhododendron.

Its size and beauty have contributed to its downfall and the number of trees left in the wild is unknown but could be anywhere from 100 to 1400.

Big tree rhododendron facts:

  • An adult tree can reach around one metre in diameter and up to 25 metres in height – that’s roughly as tall as a seven storey building!
  • All remaining trees occur in Gaoligongshan Nature Reserve in south-western China
  • Low population numbers and very restricted area of occurrence mean it is a high priority for conservation

One of the threats to it is over-harvesting of seeds for use in ornamental gardens around the world and also habitat loss and fragmentation.

The Global Trees Campaign, in partnership with Kunming Institute of Botany and local nature reserve staff, has begun work to improve understanding of the ecology of the species, how to protect it and how to promote its regeneration.

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Did you know?

The Global Trees Campaign is working on a Red List of Rhododendrons. Nearly half of the world’s 1,000 wild types of rhododendron are found in China.

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