There are more than 500 species of Rhododendron. The most common in France is the Ferruginous Rhododendron which grows naturally in the Pyrenees starting at 1200 meters.
The shrubby bush usually reaches 30 cm to 1 meter in height and can live to be 100 years old. The upper side of the Rhododendron’s evergreen leaves is shiny while the under side is the colour of rust.
The flowers are usually pinkish red but rarely white. The flowers bloom in early June for a period of 3 to 4 weeks depending on the altitude. They grow in clusters and are pollinated by insects.
The abundant secretion of nectar at the base of the corolla makes the bush very attractive to bees. The Rhododendron falls into the category of plants that produce 100 to 200 kilos of honey per hectare (2.47 acres).
The outstanding taste of the honey makes the bush highly sought after by beekeepers.
Unfortunately, some confusion exists about the toxicity of this honey.
Honey coming from the Ferruginous Rhododendron of the Pyrenees is completely safe for human consumption.
However, the Rhododendron ponticum, commonly found in Asia, produces a honey high in an alkaloid that is poisonous for humans.
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