You are here: RAO Home > Bhutan > Topics > Bhutan's Nature > Rhodendron Search
Bhutan's nature
Bhutan's Nature
Bhutan Nature Plants
Experiencing rhododendron
Thimphu's Botanical Garden
Nature Links
Bhutan Information
more information
Bhutan Tourist Destinations
Video Bhutan Videos
previous pageend
Experiencing rhododendron in the wild
Trekking in the wild and climbing steep mountains to see the various species of rhododendron in full bloom was a different and a delightful experience, according to the members of the Bhutan Society in the United Kingdom, who are currently in the country on a two-week goodwill visit to Bhutan

Matt Heasman, the team leader of the group of 15 amateur horticulturists with keen interest in gardening and plants, and particularly in rhododendrons, said that the trip was not an official research trip but to see and experience the wild rhododendrons in Bhutan which they had heard so much about. "We heard a lot from our friends about the different species of rhododendrons that are wildly seen in Bhutan," he said. "As ardent lovers of plants, we thought it would be thrilling to experience it ourselves."

Travelling through the Tang valley in Bumthang and up the Rotongla pass, Matt Heasman, said that the group was not disappointed by what they saw. "Out of 47 different species we were able to see 29 of them with almost all of them in full bloom," he said.

He said that the group was a little worried in the beginning that a lot would be finished since the blooming season was over. "But we were lucky to catch some of the late bloomers which were just beginning to come out," he said.

Matt Heasman, who has been studying the plant for over 20 years, said that seeing the plant in the wild was a rare and fascinating experience.

"There are excellent gardens in the West Coast of Scotland which are very good in growing rhododendron, but seeing it in the wild is a thrill in itself," he said, adding that "the plants in the wild are a little more tardy because they have to live on their own under harsh environment whereas in a garden they are well looked after".

With over 900 different species of rhododendron worldwide, with equally difficult names, Matt Heasman, said that it was difficult to recognise the species instantly. "If you know the species it is relatively easier to find them but not otherwise," he said.

With flowers that grow in large clusters, the rhododendron species are found in Southeast Asia, from the Himalayas through Tibet, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Vietnam and to Malaysia and Indonesia. The wild rhododendrons are found from sea level to 19,000 feet in elevation, and grow in many different habitats, including alpine regions, coniferous, and broadleaved woodlands, and even rainforests.

Although the plant is known for being poisonous, Matt Heasman, said that some of the species are used for various purposes. For instance, in China, the flowers of the rhododendron decorum were taken as salad while the setosum and the anthopogon species of rhododendron were widely used in Bhutan to make incense sticks. "But the others like the cinnabarinum species give off a lot of nectar but if you eat the honey from them, it is poisonous," he said.

Botanical Garden The royal botanical garden at Serbithang

Meanwhile the group, who visited the botanical garden in Serbithang, said that besides rhododendron, the rich flora and fauna of Bhutan was impressive. "We have collected a lot of pictures of plant species which we know nothing about," said Matt Heasman. "We will go back home and try to learn more about them."

Contributed by By Karma Choden, Kuensel, Bhutan's National Newspaper


Information on Bhutan
Lhuentse and Mongar
Laya-Gasa - Lingzhi - Lunana
Trongsa and Zhemgang
Paro and Haa
Southern Bhutan
Photo Galleries
Bhurtan: Dzongs and Monasteries East-West-Highway by motorbike
Dochula - Druk Wangyal Khangzang Chhortens
Mongar and Lhuentse
Videos: Rafting, Tshechu, Motorbiking, Roads ...
Special Link
Nature & Environment
External links
Bhutan Trust Fund for Environmental Conservation
Royal Society for Protection of Nature
WWF Bhutan
Ministry of Agriculture
more information
Thimphu's Botanical Garden Mules in Bhutan
previous page Bhutan Nature Home