Visiting New Hampshire's Biodiversity


Rhododendron State Park: Wildflowers



Description: This 2,723-acre park is named after its focal point, a 16-acre grove of giant rhododendron (Rhododendron maximum). A 0.6 mile-long, universally accessible trail encircles the grove allowing visitors to observe, close up, the fragrant clusters of pink and white blossoms as they burst into bloom in mid-July. A wildflower trail, maintained by the Fitzwilliam Garden Club, winds through the forest adjacent to the grove. Wildflowers bloom in this forest from early spring to the first frost, but the best time to catch the rhododendrons in bloom is in mid-July.

Giant rhododendron
(Rhododendron maximum), also known as great laurel or rosebay, is a large evergreen shrub known for its showy flower displays. It is near the northern limit of its range in New Hampshire and native populations are rare. In fact, it is considered rare or uncommon throughout New England. It is really a species of the southern and central Appalachians, where it is common on wooded mountain slopes, often forming dense and extensive colonies.

Giant rhododendron prefers moist acidic soils that are high in organic matter, like those found in evergreen swamps. However, once established in moist soils, it can spread to surrounding upland areas. In addition to producing seed, rhododendron can spread vegetatively through a process called “layering,” where low growing branches that make contact with the soil can take root, establishing new stems and expanding the colony.
The fragrant clusters of the giant rhododendron’s pink and white blossoms burst into bloom in mid-July and often last for a few weeks.


Directions:
From Rte. 119 between Fitzwilliam and Richmond, take Rhododendron Rd and follow signs to Park.

Landowner:
State of NH – DRED, Division of Parks & Recreation

Site Guide and Map

Images (hold mouse over image for caption)

Entrance sign at Rhododendron State Park (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau) A spectacular Rhododendron maximum (giant rhododendron) bloom in July at Rhododendron State Park (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau) Ferns and rhododendrons (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)

Blooming Rhododendron maximum (giant rhododendron) in mid-July (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau) Rhododendron maximum (giant rhododendron) leaves (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)

Rhododendron maximum (giant rhododendron) in bloom (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau) Rhododendron maximum (giant rhododendron) in bloom (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau) Wall of Rhododendron maximum (giant rhododendron) (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)

Walking trail at Rhododendron State Park (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau) The Wildflower Trail points out manyh of the species you will see on the forest floor at Rhododendron State Park (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)

Bridge at Rhododendron State Park (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau) Rhododendron maximum (giant rhododendron) flower and leaves (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau) Rhododendron maximum (giant rhododendron) in bloom in mid-July (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)

Rhododendron maximum (giant rhododendron) bloom in front of a hemlock tree (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)

Bridge along the Rhododendron Loop trail (photo by Ben Kimball for the NH Natural Heritage Bureau)

Rhododendron Trail area map (click for larger pdf)

Rhododendron State Park brochure (click to link to site guide)

Site Guide


links:
NH Division of Parks and Recreation's Rhododendron State Park page

US National Park Service's National Natural Landmark page for Rhododendron State Park


back to Visit NH's Biodiversity page