rho·​do·​den·​dron ˌrō-də-ˈden-drən How to pronounce rhododendron (audio)
: any of a genus (Rhododendron) of widely cultivated shrubs and trees of the heath family with alternate leaves and showy flowers
especially : one with leathery evergreen leaves as distinguished from a deciduous azalea

Illustration of rhododendron

Illustration of rhododendron

Example Sentences

Recent Examples on the Web The 250-foot-wide half-domed Sand Cave, nestled amongst rhododendron thickets and colossal hemlock pines, was once a massive sandstone rock. Washington Post, 8 Oct. 2020 The Pacific rhododendron is Washington's state flower. Olivia Munson, USA TODAY, 5 Feb. 2023 The azalea plant, part of the rhododendron family, originates from Japan. Mariah Thomas, Good Housekeeping, 31 Jan. 2023 All of those photos of Camilla were taken by a man illegally trespassing on her property — taking photographs of her through a rhododendron bush. Vulture, 12 Nov. 2022 That includes a predentary, a single bone in the front of the lower jaw, sometimes likened to a beak, that helped the animal do to branches and leaves what your garden shears do to the rhododendron. Gemma Tarlach, Discover Magazine, 21 Sep. 2017 Shrubs that tolerate shade, such azalea and rhododendron, are also good planting partners for hardy begonias. Megan Hughes, Better Homes & Gardens, 28 Sep. 2022 The substance — also known as bitter honey for its pungent taste — is the result of bees feeding on the pollen of rhododendron flowers. María Luisa Paúl, Washington Post, 12 Aug. 2022 Late spring in Bhutan features a spectacular bloom of rhododendron. Johanna Read, Forbes, 11 Aug. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'rhododendron.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

Word History


borrowed from New Latin (linnaeus), going back to Latin, "oleander, a plant of the Black Sea region described by Pliny whose honey is toxic (probably Rhododendron ponticum)," borrowed from Greek rhodódendron, from rhodo- rhodo- + déndron "tree" — more at dendro-

First Known Use

1657, in the meaning defined above

Time Traveler
The first known use of rhododendron was in 1657

Dictionary Entries Near rhododendron

Cite this Entry

“Rhododendron.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/rhododendron. Accessed 20 Mar. 2023.

Kids Definition


rho·​do·​den·​dron ˌrōd-ə-ˈden-drən How to pronounce rhododendron (audio)
: any of a genus of trees and shrubs of the heath family that often have leathery evergreen leaves and showy clusters of yellow, white, pink, red, or purple flowers

More from Merriam-Webster on rhododendron

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