An evergreen shrub naturalised on heathy and rocky hillsides, rocky stream banks and ravines, and as an understorey in woodland on acid soils. It regenerates from seed freely and can form dense thickets. 0-600 m (Eel Crags, Cumberland).
The pollen record shows that R. ponticum was native to Ireland in the Hoxnian interglacial. In the current interglacial it was introduced to cultivation in 1763 and most, if not all, our plants derive from Spanish stock. It was known in the wild by at least 1894 and spread widely in the 20th century, but its initial expansion is poorly documented. Its distribution is now stable.
Native of two, disjunct areas: the Iberian peninsula and S.E. Europe, Lebanon, Turkey and the Caucasus.
PLANTATT - Attributes of British and Irish plants. (.zip 1455KB) This dataset was compiled and published in 2004, and last updated in November 2008. Download includes an Excel spreadsheet of the attributes, and a PDF explaining the background and nomenclature. Note that the PDF version is the booklet as published, whereas the Excel spreadsheet incorporates subsequent corrections. A hardcopy can be purchased from the Centre for Ecology and Hydrology.
Atlas text references
1975. Biological Flora of the British Isles. No. 137. Rhododendron ponticum L. Journal of Ecology. 63:345-364.
1978. Vergleichende Chorologie der zentraleuropäischen Flora. Volume 2. 2 vols.