Rhododendrons, from the Greek for rose tree, are a highly invasive species which is not native in the UK. It is poisonous and it destroys habitats for native wildlife and competes with native plants. There are over 1,000 species and all parts of the plant contain toxins. Despite this, we continue to grow them in gardens for pleasure.
I want to start by taking a look at the poison aspect. When eaten, it causes vomiting, diarrhoea and constipation, slow heart rate, loss of coordination, falling and exhaustion. It tends to be animals that are affected by the poison although it’s still poisonous to humans, it’s just there is less chance of us ingesting it. Apparently there was a bout of poisoning in 400BC in Turkey that may have been down to toxic honey made from the nectar of the rhododendrons. Unsurprisingly, in the Victorian language of flowers, this plant symbolises danger and to beware.
The second key aspect of this flower, for me, is that they are big on interbreeding which results in hybrids and new species (hence the vast number of them). In terms of what this might mean to us if we are drawn to the plant or feel it is sending us a message, I think it’s about boundaries. Breaking them down and building them up. It is clearly about sexuality and fertility and creation as well but it’s important to note that the rhododendron isn’t held back by ideas about who it should and shouldn’t breed with. It isn’t hindered by labels and societal beliefs around race, class, gender and sexuality. To a certain extent, this feels like an advocate of free love! Just make sure you keep yourself safe 😉
Outside the sexual arena, this could be asking you to look at collaboration. Mixing things up. Taking one idea from one field and using it in another. Working with someone from a different profession, a different background. The place where subjects meet is fertile ground for creation of ideas and art works and breakthroughs. Bring together your passions and see what magic happens!