Skip to content

We use cookies on this site to enhance your user experience. By clicking any link on this page you are giving your consent for us to set cookies.

No, give me more info

Rhododendron simsii

Indian azalea

About the plant

Rhododendron simsii is native to much of eastern Asia including China, Thailand, Myanmar and Vietnam.

  • Not yet evaluated

    The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species uses a set of criteria to evaluate the extinction risk of the world’s species. The ongoing mission is to evaluate every plant species in the world.

    IUCN Red List Status:

    Not yet evaluated
    Data deficient
    Least concern
    Near threatened
    Vulnerable
    Endangered
    Critically endangered
    Extinct in the wild
    Extinct
  • House plant
    Plant makes a good indoor plant in the UK
  • Invertebrate food
    Plant is eaten by native and feral animals
  • Click on icon to reveal more

Facts

  • Flowers range from pale pink to dark red
  • Grows to 2m tall in 10 years
  • Named for John Sims, an English botanist

Defence strategy

Glasshouse thrips (tiny flying insects) can cause extensive damage to plants in the glasshouses at Kew. But Kew’s horticulturists noticed R.simsii was able to survive heavy infestations when other species did not.

Chemical analysis of the young leaves showed they contain very high concentrations of a chemical that is toxic to thrips. By protecting just its young leaves and buds with this chemical, R. simsii doesn’t expend too much energy, while ensuring the most important foliage survives and it can recover the following spring.


Chemical weapon

In 65BCE King Mithridates VI of Pontus experimented with natural poisons. He placed toxic honeycomb (from honeybees that had been foraging on Rhododendron) along the roadside as a trap for the invading army of Pompey the Great. Pompey’s garrison thought it was a gift from the gods, ate it, and poisoned themselves. The army of Mithridates VI could easily slaughter them in their stupor.

The name rhododendron comes from the ancient Greek for 'rose' (rhódon) and 'tree' (dendron)
  • Not yet evaluated

    The International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species uses a set of criteria to evaluate the extinction risk of the world’s species. The ongoing mission is to evaluate every plant species in the world.

    IUCN Red List Status:

    Not yet evaluated
    Data deficient
    Least concern
    Near threatened
    Vulnerable
    Endangered
    Critically endangered
    Extinct in the wild
    Extinct
  • House plant
    Plant makes a good indoor plant in the UK
  • Invertebrate food
    Plant is eaten by native and feral animals
  • Click on icon to reveal more