At this time of year , many parts of the Irish landscape come alive with the purples and pinks of the Rhododendron flower.
These images are just a few closeup shots taken on an evening walk yesterday …..
Rhododendron (from Ancient Greek ῥόδον rhódon “rose” and δένδρον déndron “tree”) is a genus of 1,024 species of woody plants in the heath family (Ericaceae), either evergreen or deciduous, and found mainly in Asia, although it is also widespread throughout the Southern Highlands of the Appalachian Mountains of North America. It is the national flower of Nepal. Most species have showy flowers. Azaleas make up two subgenera of Rhododendron. They are distinguished from “true” rhododendrons by having only five anthers per flower.
Rhododendron laden hillsides
Comes ’round again,
Bringing life back to flow’rs.
Roses shall start to bloom once more,
And mighty White Oaks shall be green with leaves.
Rhododendron laden hillsides
And Lady Slippers nod:
Rhododendron hills , Image Gallery
The Vee – County Tipperary
The Vee in county Tipperary is one of Ireland most visited landscape locations. ‘The Vee’ refers to a V-shaped valley in the Knockmealdown mountains. Formed in the ice age the Vee itself is on the Sugar Loaf mountain , and forms a pass from Tipperary to Waterford between Knockaunabulloga (on which you will find Bay Lough) and the Sugar Loaf mountain.
The Vee is predominantly famous because of the breathtaking panoramic views afforded to travellers and sight seers going through the pass. The journey rises to about 2,000 feet (610m) above sea level above Bay Lough, and as it does so it gives wonderful views of a portion of the ‘Golden Vale’ between the Knockmealdown and Galtee Mountain Ranges.
On a clear day (or night) the Vee affords views along and across the valley to Clonmel, Cahir, Ardfinnan, Clogheen, Ballyporeen and even Cashel. You can also see the Galtee Mountains across the valley, the Comeragh Mountains along the valley and Slievenamon, behind Clonmel, quite clearly.
Each June however the entire area is covered in the bright pinks of Rhododendron flowers, I visited the area on Saturday just to photograph this event taking place, in the wild this plant is incredibly invasive and as you can see from these images has become the overwhelming feature the the entire area.
This web site decribes Rhododendrons as an invasive species and for good reason.
Habitat: Mixed deciduous forest. Temperate heaths. Raised and blanket bogs.
Description: This species was first introduced to parks, gardens, and demesnes in Britain and Ireland in the 1700’s. Rhododendron ponticum is readily recognised by its distinctive attractive flowers and large dark green coloured, oval leaves. It can grow quite tall with specimens regularly attaining 8 m.
Origin and Distribution: The species is native to both Europe and Asia. It is believed that the current populations of Rhododendron in Ireland have been introduced from material taken from both the Iberian Peninsula populations and the Asian populations of this species. Rhododendron has a complex history.
Impacts: Rhododendron can from very dense thickets and out-compete native plants for space and resources, especially for sunlight. Other impacts on fish and invertebrate communities have been recorded. Rhododendron can also prevent access to sites by the shear mass of plant material blocking paths and right of way.
How did it get here? Natural dispersal by seed and vegetative means and planted by people.
Where is it found in Ireland? Planted in gardens, parks and demesnes.
Import only clean soil from known source
Ensure all vehicles and equipment are cleaned to avoid cross contamination.
Be aware of the threat of colonisation from upstream areas washing Japanese knotweed material downstream.
Promote native species and biodiversity – use alternative, native plants
Know what you are buying/growing and source native Irish seed and plants
Do not swap plants and cuttings
Clean plants before adding to ponds (dispose of water away from water courses)
Never collect plants from the wild
Safe disposal of plant material and growing media
In the aerial photograph above, the Rhododendrons show as the lighter green area in the middle of the image and rise the full hight of the mountain on the left of Bay Lough and follow the flow of the river that flows from the lough down the valley and into the woods below.
From a personal stand point, each June it is a wonderful site to see, many Tourists visit the area during this period just to take in the views it offers, however it is a little overwhelming to witness the extent this plant has taken over the mountains in this part of county Tipperary. When you take into account that it was only introduced in the 1700’s as a decorative plant into a local garden in the valley below.
All images taken using a Nikon D7000
Irish landscape photography : Nigel Borrington
The Vee, County Tipperary