Rosebay Rhododendron: Look but don’t eat

Tom HarringtonOur Town Outdoors

Tom Harrington hiked the West Prong Trail from Treemont to Campsite #18 on Monday, June 3, 2024.

He found the Rosebay Rhododendron at peak bloom. It’s a beautiful flower on a bush that can reach 10 to 20 feet tall.

Rosebay rhododendron does well as an understory shrub planted in groups in woodland or naturalized areas, or as specimens in butterfly or pollinator gardens, according to the NC state extension service. As an evergreen it adds interest in a winter garden.

It attracts bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and pollinators. Downside: it’s poisonous to humans and problematic for cats, dogs and horses. Therefore, look but do not eat.

Pipsissewa: The prince’s pine

  • Basil Bee Balm – Many + – Most at peak bloom – some past peak bloom & others just starting to bloom. Nice!
  • Canadian Violet – Some – Past peak bloom but some blooms still in good shape.
  • Daisy Fleabane – (1) – At peak bloom.
  • Fairy Wand – (1) – At peak bloom – About 1-1/2 mile on right below the trail (about 16 inches from the trail).
  • Galax – Few – Well past peak bloom (about gone).
  • Goats Beard – Some – Past peak bloom.
  • Hawkweed – (1) – Well past peak bloom.
  • Large Bluet – Many – Slightly past peak bloom.


  • Loosestrife – Few – Past peak bloom – About .08 miles up the trail from Treemont on the right.
  • Pipsissewa – Some – Most at peak bloom (most first half mile from Treemont) – Small but dainty.
  • Rosebay Rhododendron – (1) – At peak bloom on the right about 1.6 miles from Treemont.
  • Wild Hydrangea – Many ++ – Many at peak bloom – some just starting to bloom – quiet a display.
  • Wood Nettle – Few – Just starting to bloom.

Notes: The trail crew has done an absolutely amazing job removing massive blow downs from the major storm around two months ago. One would only need to go about a third of a mile up the trail from Treemont to get an idea of the large numbers of massive trees that were blown down. Bravo! Way to go trail crews! Photos are from photo files (not made today).

Tom Harrington is a regular hiker who reports on wildflowers in the Smokies.


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