Rusty-leaved alprose

(Rhododendron ferrugineum)



The rusty-leaved alprose is at home in the mountains of Europe around the tree line. In the Central Alps it very common, in the Limestone Alps considerably rarer. Its ancestors originate from the humid mountain forests of the Himalayas. It is particularly characteristic as undergrowth in acidophilous, sparse coniferous forests of Swiss pine and larch.



As a wood, the rusty-leaved alprose is classified as a dwarf shrub, because it rarely exceeds heights of 1.2 m. Particularly striking are its shiny red flowers, which blossom from the end of June until the beginning of July. The flowers grow in ample corymbs. The up to 5 cm long, narrow-lanceolate leaves are dark green on top, rust-red felt-like on the bottom – hence the name.


Special features

The rusty-leaved alprose requires both light and warmth. In order to flourish, the duration and depth of the snow cover are particularly crucial, because this evergreen shrub reacts very sensitively to dehydration. Branches, which in winter stick out from the snow cover, wither as they do not get any water from the frozen ground.



Reisigl, Herbert & Keller, Richard (1999): Lebensraum Bergwald. Alpenpflanzen in Bergwald, Baumgrenze und Zwergstrauchheide. 2nd edition. Spektrum Akademischer Verlag, Heidelberg - Berlin. 148 p.