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    Posted June 26, 2012 by
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    Travel photo of the day

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    Rhododendron myrtillus and the Month of ‘Purple-Pink Mountains’ © Nora de Angelli/ www.noraphotos.co


    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     Nora15's first photo was selected as CNN's Travel Photo of the Day for August 21, 2012.
    - rachel8, CNN iReport producer

    Rhododendron myrtillus is a genus of alpine shrub with beautiful pink magenta flowers and dark green waxy leaves.

    Rhododendron blooming is one of the greatest spectacles of nature that happens every year at the beginning of June in the mountains above the city of Sinaia, Romania. Within a couple of weeks the pink-purple flowers cover entirely the alpine high plains.

    I photographed it inside its natural habitat, The Bucegi Mountains National Park. During the last three decades the Rhododendrons have been protected by law.


    The conservation programs were triggered by the sudden disappearance of the colourful shrubs due to uncontrolled flower harvesting by the local people.

    The widely spread demand for the Rhododendron pink flowers came from its healing properties (hepato-protective qualities) and from its amazing aroma which resembles in many ways the one of the rose petals. Usually its dried petals are boiled with sugar into a ‘delicatessen’ similar to marmalade or jam, or just simply used in/for tea infusions.

    Every spring the fragile Rhododendron bushes were crushed, smashed and devastated by the invasion of flower pickers. The easily breakable woody plants left behind, splintered and broken, were unable to regrow and survive for the next year. The beautiful natural spectacle was lost.

    Today the Rhododendron myrtillus is recovering thanks to various protection and conservation projects. Yet, as old habits are hard to change, some pickers are still sneaking up on the watchful eye of the mountain police, attracted by its irresistible perfume, aroma and myths.

    Hopefully, time will heal the destroyed bushes and also the (explicable and sometimes excusable…) greed of those people.




    Notes (source Wikipedia) about various species of Rhododendrons:

    Rhododendron arboreum is the national flower of Nepal.

    Rhododendron ponticum is the state flower of Indian-administered Kashmir and Pakistan-controlled Kashmir.

    Rhododendron niveum is the state tree of Sikkim in India.

    Rhododendron is also the state tree of the state of Uttarakhand, India.

    Rhododendron catawbiense, the most widespread rhododendron of the Appalachian Mountains, is the state flower of West Virginia, and is in the Flag of West Virginia.

    Rhododendron macrophyllum, a widespread rhododendron of the Pacific Northwest, is the state flower of Washington.


    In the photos:

    Rhododendron myrtillus (pink) and Gentiana lutea in their natural habitat © Nora de Angelli/ www.noraphotos.com


    Rhododendron myrtillus (pink) in their natural habitat © Nora de Angelli/ www.noraphotos.com


    The Rhododendron flower pickers © Nora de Angelli/ www.noraphotos.com


    Rhododendron myrtillus close up © Nora de Angelli/ www.noraphotos.com


    Nora de Angelli photographing Rhododendrons (photo by Dan Anghelescu) © Nora de Angelli/ www.noraphotos.com


    Sources: Personal notes & Wikipedia

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