Monday, 13 April 2020

Tree-Rhododendron or Tree-Rose

Vernacular names: Braah, Brass, Cheeu
Scientific name: Rhododendron arboreum
The Himalaya has hidden many wonders and secrets in its lap. It is blessed with unique flora and fauna and is home to four global biodiversity hotspots.  Tree rhododendrons, found in the Himalayan forests at an altitude of 1500-3600m, paint the green canvas of forests with patches of red during the months of March-April every year and attracts everyone’s attention.  The generic name ‘Rhododendron’ itself is derived from two Greek words, ‘rhod’ + ‘dendron’, which means rose tree. These trees, which can rise to a height of approximately 15 metres, bear bright scarlet red, bell-shaped flower. These soul-soothing flowers have not only aesthetic beauty but also have many medicinal properties as well. 
 A close encounter with a bunch of flowers

 A group of trees flowering in Jakhoo (Shimla) forest
    1. General Uses: 
    Flowers are used for making chutney, jam, tea, halwa, refreshing drinks, wine and squash. 
 Collected Rhododendron Petals
 Burans Chutney 

Burans and Pudina Chutney 

 Rhododendron Flower Tea

My Friend with Rhodo Squash (Photo Courtesy: Dr. Rakesh Sharma Ji) 

  Burans Halwa (Photograph by: Dr. O.P. Vidyarthi ji)

 Rhododendron Squash (Photograph from: HPMC website)

 Rhododendron Wine (Photograph from: HPMC website)

2. Medicinal Uses: 
Tree rhododendron has many medicinal properties. Leaf paste is applied on the forehead to alleviate headache. Flowers are considered useful in controlling amoebic dysentery, fever, nose bleeding and rheumatism. Some recent studies have shown that the flowers have anti-inflammatory, hepatoprotective, anti-diarrhoeal, antidiabetic, adaptogenic and antioxidant properties due to the presence of quercetin, rutin, coumaric acid and other phytochemicals. Quercetin is considered to be useful in hypertension, atherosclerosis and other heart disorders. Rutin helps in preventing ther formation of blood clots and thus reduces the risk of heart attacks.  Coumaric acid is an antioxidant. 

    3.  Sacred Uses: 
    People in many parts of Himachal Pradesh and Uttrakhand fit flowers and leaves of tree rhododendron in the ropes made up of munja grass. These ropes are tied around the houses and temples during the celebrations of bhaisakhi or bishu festival. People in some parts of Uttrakhand dance with a branch of tree rhododendron during the Bissu/Vishu fair. In my opinion, this practice should be discontinued as it damages large number of plants during the fair. 
 Flowers and leaves of tree rhododendron are being fitted in munja ropes 
(Photograph courtesy: Sumit Sharma)
  Munja ropes are ready to be tied around the houses during Bishu festival
(Photograph courtesy: Sumit Sharma)

Ambasta, S.P. (ed.) 1986.  The Useful Plants of India.  CSIR, New Delhi.
Bhandary M.R. and Kuwabata J. 2008.  Antidiabetic activity of Lali Gurans (Rhododendron arboreum) flower. J. Food Sci. Tech. Nepal. 4: 61-63.
Bhatt, N. 2018. Cardio Protective Property of Rhododendron arboretum.    Canadian J. Clinical Nutrition 6: 186-194.
Chauhan, N.S. 1999. Medicinal and Aromatic Plants of Himachal Pradesh. Indus Publ. Co., New Delhi.
Jain, S.K. 1991. Dictionary of Indian Folk Medicine and Ethnobotany. Deep Publications, New Delhi.
Lal, B., Vats, S.K., Singh, R.D. and Gupta, A.K. 1996.  Plants used as ethnomedicine and supplementary food by Gaddis of Himachal Pradesh, 384-387.  In: Jain, S.K. (ed.) Ethnobiology in Human Welfare.  Deep Publ., New Delhi.
Manandhar, N.P.  1980.  Medicinal Plants of Nepal Himalaya.  Ratna Pustak Bhandar, Kathmandu, Nepal.
Verma N., Singh A.P., Amresh G., Sahu P.K. and Rao C.V. 2011. Antidiarrheal potential of standardized extract of Rhododendron arboreum flowers in experimental animals. Indian J of Pharmacol. 43: 689-693.
Watt, G.  1972.  A Dictionary of the Economic Products of India, Vol. I - VI.  Periodical experts.  Delhi (India).


  1. Very nice sir. In Kerala we have this plant at Munnar shola hills , may be a Nilagiri sub species. Flower extracts are said to be useful heart diseases , coronory artery diseases, removes blocks and prevents attacks....

  2. Nice presentation sir. Thank you so much.

  3. Wonderful Anil. U r really a botanist to the core

  4. Great work sir, perfectly pointed.

  5. Really very informative. Did not know about the munja rope. Keep this work up. I have a suggestion. Too much has been written about medicinal uses of plants. You should pick up some topic on which thereis not much information. Dr. Tara Sen selected wild edible plants upon my suggestion and she worked quite hard about it. Since she has a rural background, so she has knowledge too. Her web site HimalayanWildEdibleplants has become very popular. It is not even one year old, but has been visited by over 1.4 lakh persons.

  6. Very nice information. Beautiful pictures and scentifically explained. Well done.

  7. Quite educating Sir. Supplemented with high quality pics.

  8. Dr.Anil, the work is not only well presented but very informative too.I am proud of you.

  9. Gulukand is also prepared with these flowers.mix sugar in these flower petals and crush them with hand. Preserve in a glass jar .thia is a medicine for constipation. My grandmother use to make this. And in constipation she gives that to us.

  10. I'll update it. Thank you very much. May I know your name ?

  11. Nice presentation and good information.keep it up.

  12. Very good presentation of a tree of Himalaya, for which we have no access. I have seen only photos. Keep it up. You are doing great work. All the best.

  13. Above comment from Dr. Daniel.

  14. Wonderful!love all the information regarding Rhododendron use.Keep sharing your articles.