SOUTH CHARLESTON, W.Va. - West Virginia is still celebrating its 150th anniversary of statehood, so now is a good time to get acquainted with the state flower: Rhododendron maximum
. It typically blooms at the end of June well into July. “Folks tend to confuse the spring bloom time of Rhododendron catawbiense with the state flower bloom time,” said Jon Teets, Superintendent at Audra State Park
. Teets says “the” state flower is in bloom now in Barbour and Upshur counties, which includes Audra State Park.
Bryan Danford, Naturalist at Twin Falls State Park
says the “blooms are getting ready to explode big-time” at this Wyoming County destination. Photographers travel to Twin Falls for a good opportunity to capture the pastel images. Other state parks in mountainous areas of the state with rhododendron blooms include the Bluestone Gorge area at Pipestem State Park
, and at Camp Creek
, Blackwater Falls
and Canaan Valley
state parks. The overlook at Blackwater Falls Lodge is a focal area. Holly River
also reports rhododendron blooms this week and expects a few more weeks of picturesque flowering. Watoga State Park
indicates cabin and camping guest will have peak bloom the week of July 8 and a little longer According to “The Checklist and Atlas of the Vascular Flora of West Virginia,” there are seven rhododendrons listed in the Ericacea Family (heaths) that bloom in late June into July. Rhododendron maximum is the state flower. The more bold color of the Rhododendron catawbiense is the earlier blooming species at Hawks Nest
state parks in May into June.
A picnic or trip to a West Virginia state park in July can reward visitors with blooms of the state flower. State-operated parks and forests do not charge an entry fee. Hiking trails, picnic grounds, campground, and lakes for fishing are good outdoor excuses to visit. Parks with lodges and cabins
are open year-round, many offering event, activity, or better-rate packages. Visit http://www.wvstateparks.com/
or call 800 CALL WVA and ask for a park by name.
About Rhododendron maximum
The Rhododendron maximum, often called the “great laurel,” is the state flower of West Virginia. It sometimes is a small tree up to 33 feet in height depending on location and growing conditions. The leaves are very thick and leathery, elliptical-oblong or lance-oblong and very smooth. It thrives in damp woods in most if not all of the counties in the state. The delicate pale pink or white bloom, mottled with either red or yellow flecks, is showy in the shadows of the forests and evergreen leaves of the plant. It is a shrub of the heath family. Rhododendron maximum was selected as the state flower on January 29, 1903, by a joint resolution of both houses of the West Virginia legislature, following a vote by pupils of the public schools.
Hoy Murphy, Public Information Officer