Rhododendron Bloom Report: July 17, 2020

Hi folks-
As you can see from some of the pictures I took on Thursday, July 16, most, but not all of the blooms at the grove are spent. There are a few fresh enough that they should still be around by this weekend, especially if the weather stays cool enough. Nevertheless, it is July with all its uncertainy, so no promises from here.

Indeed, the bloom time was almost a week early this year, but close enough to still be referred to as the middle of July, give or take a few days. The early bloom this season may well be a result of the dry and hot weather of June that spurred things on. Or Not. There are so many variables in the answer to that, it is hard to know what it really is.

There is another mystery in the grove. Why are some (most, actually) blossoms pinkish while others appear completely white? You may notice a slight variation as you stroll through the grove. An obvious and factual but only partial answer to that is that most of the blossoms start out with a pink color that fades as the flowers open up. What is mysterious is that some of the flowers, especially the seasonally later ones, are almost pure white with no pink at all even as they open up. Is this because of nutritional differences in the soil? Is it a genetic difference? What else? Who knows? Without a serious and expensive scientific study, it will likely remain a mystery. Sometimes that is a good thing, eh?

And what is with the greenish dots in the upper part of the flower? Is it a visual guide for the pollinators (foragers, really-they are all there for the food that the plant makes for them)? Or what?

The recent rains have brought on a few earthy fruits (mushrooms, I mean) in the grove, one of which made an irresistible photo subject today-Boletus chromapes- the word “chromapes” refers to the yellow base of the stem-the “Chrome foot Bolete”-a good edible, but be careful. Some of the boletes, if eaten, may land you in the hospital with a bad tummy-ache or worse.
Even though the bugs weren’t bad at the grove on Thursday morning, it can change on the hour (or minute), so come prepared for lots of them.

Completely spent for the season-a common sight in the grove this week
a few are still out, but fading away…
almost hidden in the shade
Why is this one so pink?
Why is this one so white?
A pretty mushroom in the grove-“Boletus chromapes”-it will only be there for a day or so.
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Ted Lenk

Ted Lenk is an NH State Park Volunteer who checks in regularly at Rhododendron State Park.

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