Nilgiri Rhododendron
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Nilgiri Rhododendron
ative Photo: Dinesh Valke
Common name: Nilgiri Rhododendron • Malayalam: അലഞ്ചി alanchi, കാട്ടുപൂവരശ് kattupuvaras • Tamil: பூவரசு puvaracu
Botanical name: Rhododendron arboreum subsp. nilagiricum    Family: Ericaceae (Blueberry family)
Synonyms: Rhododendron nilagiricum, Rhododendron arboreum var. nilagiricum

Nilgiri Rhododendron is an interesting species of Rhododendron endemic to Western Ghats. It is a tree up to 10 m tall with bark brownish, fissured, and pinkish blaze. Crimson red bell-shaped flowers are borne in fascicles or pseudocorymbs at branch ends. Alternately spirally arranged leaves are clustered at twig ends. Leaf-stalks are up to 2 cm long, canaliculate, hairless. Leaves are up to 7.5-13 x 3.5-5.5 cm, elliptic-oblong, tip apiculate, base narrow to rounded, margin reflexed, leathery, hairless above, furfuraceous beneath. Nerves and reticulations are impressed above, midrib canaliculate above. Capsule is woody, oblong, up to 2 cm long, splitting open, seeds numerous, minute, ellipsoid, winged. Nilgiri Rhododendron is endemic to the Western Ghats, common in Nilgiris, Anamalai and Palani Hills and rarely found in Varushanad Hills.

Identification credit: Dinesh Valke Photographed at Doddabetta, Ooty, Tamil Nadu.

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