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© Etienne Branquart
© Etienne Branquart
© Snowdonia National Park
© Snowdonia National Park
© Etienne Branquart
Rhododendron ponticum - Rhododendron

French name:  Rhododendron
Dutch name: Pontische rododendron
Family: Ericaceae
Group: Vascular plants
Origin: Asia, Europe
Habitat: terrestrial
Introduction:  agri- and horticulture
ISEIA Score : 11
Naturalization in Belgium
First observation in the wild: 1920
Invasion stage: spread
Spatial distribution: restricted
Reproduction in the wild: yes
Dispersion potential: medium
Natural habitats: high
More on invasiveness: Rhododendron ponticum grows on moist acidic sandy soils. It mainly thrives in the European Atlantic area because of young plant sensitivity to dryness. It is able to tolerate dense shade or even almost closed canopy conditions. Invaded habitats are acidophilic forests, heathlands, grasslands, dunes, etc. The plant produces a huge quantity of small seeds that are wind-dispersed up to distances of maximum 50 to 100 meters (under favourable open conditions).
Distribution in Belgium
Established populations
absent from district
isolated populations (1-5 localities per district)
widespread (>5 localities per district)
Endangered areas
low risk
medium risk
high risk

Endangered Natura 2000 habitats ():
heath & scrub: 40104030
forest habitats: 91209190
Impacts on Species
Predation / Herbivory: low
Competition: high
Disease transmission: likely
Genetic effects: low
Impacts on Ecosystems
Nutrient cycling: high
Physical alteration: high
Natural successions: high
Food web alteration: low
More on impacts: Rhododendron forms monospecific stands with a dense and permanent canopy preventing the development of native species; it has the potential to prevent natural regeneration of native trees and to outcompete many species in wood- and heathlands. Competition is favoured by the production of allelopathic compounds. This species is poorly consumed by herbivores and its litter is hardly degraded by soil and water organisms. It is also known to affect consumer assemblages and food chains. R. ponticum is likely to act as a major vector of two serious forest fungal pathogens, Heterobasidion annosum and Phytophthora spp., that may cause the mortality of a wide range of deciduous and conifer trees.
Data Source & References
Authors: Branquart Etienne, Vanderhoeven Sonia, Van Landuyt Wouter, Van Rossum Fabienne, Verloove Filip.
Published on:  04 December 2007
Last update:  09 February 2011
Colak, AH, Cross, JR & Rotherham, ID (1998)
Rhododendron ponticum in native and exotic environments, with particular reference to Turkey and the British Isles.
Practical Ecology and Conservation 2: 34-41.
Cronk, Q.C.B. & Fuller, J.L. (1995)
Plant invaders: the threat to natural ecosystems.
Chapman & Hall, London, 241 p.
Day, J., Nigel, S. & Robertson, P. (2003)
The scrub management handbook: guidance on the management of scrub on nature conservation sites.
Forum on the application of conservation techniques, English Nature & RSPB.
Erfmeier, A. & Bruelheide, H. (2005)
Invasive and native Rhododendron ponticum populations: is there evidence for genotypic differences in germination and growth?
Ecography 28: 417-428.
Harris, C.M., Park, K.J. ,Atkinson, R.Edwards, C. & Travis, J.M.J. (2009)
Invasive species control: Incorporating demographic data and seed dispersal into a management model for Rhododendron ponticum.
Ecological Informatics 4: 226–233.
Harris, C.M., Standford, H.L., Edwards, C., Travis, J.M.J. & Park, K.J. (2011)
Integrating demographic data and a mechanistic dispersal model to predict invasion spread of Rhododendron ponticum in different habitats.
Ecological Informatics 6: 187–195.
Hladyz, S., Abjörnsson, K., Giller, P.S. & Woodwarth, G. (2011)
Impacts of an aggressive riparian invader on community structure and ecosystem functioning in stream food webs.
Journal of Applied Ecology DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2664.2010.01924.x
Lambinon, J., Delvosalle, L. & Duvigneaud, J. (2004)
Nouvelle fore de la Belgique, du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg, du Nord de la France et des régions voisines.
Editions du Patrimoine du Jardin botanique national de Belgique, Meise.
Muller, S. (2004)
Plantes invasives en France : état des connaissances et propositions d'actions.
Publication scientifique du Museum d'Histoire naturelle, Patrimoines naturels n°62.
Stephenson, C.M., MacKenzie M.L., Edwards C. & Travis J.M.J. (2006)
Modelling establishment probabilities of an exotic plant, Rhododendron ponticum, invading a heterogeneous, woodland landscape using logistic regression with spatial autocorrelation.
Ecological Modelling 193:747-758
Stephenson, C.M.,Kohn, D.D.,Park K.J.,Atkinson, R., Edwards, C. & Travis, J.M. (2007)
Testing mechanistic models of seed dispersal for the invasive Rhododendron ponticum (L.).
Perspectives in Plant Ecology, Evolution and Systematics, 9. 15-28.
Tabbush, P.M. & Williamson, D.R. (1987)
Rhododendron ponticum as a forest weed.
Forestry Commission Bulletin 73: 1-7.
Van Landuyt, W., Hoste, I., Vanhecke, L., Van den Bremt, P. Vercruysse, W. & De Beer, D. (2006)
Atlas van de Flora van Vlaanderen en het Brussels gewest.
Nationale Plantentuin en het Instituut voor Natuur- en Bosonderzoek i.s.m. Flo.Wer vzw.
Verloove, F. (2006)
Catalogue of the Neophytes in Belgium (1800-2005).
Scripta Botanica Belgica 39, 89 pp.

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