Sunday, March 04, 2007

Flower of Mystery, Flower of Danger

"O'er pine-clad hills, and dusky plains,
In silent state rhododendron reigns.
And spreads, in beauty's softest blooms,
Her purple glories through the glooms."
--George Shaw

One of my favorite books is a little volume called Forget Me Not: Sentiments and Plant Lore from THE LANGUAGE OF FLOWERS. In it one can find the symbolism and literary allusions for all plants. Today I looked up the plant that signals danger, and that honor goes to the lovely Rhododendron.

According to author Pamela Todd, "The danger signified by the rhododendron lurks in its flowers, for honey made from their pollen can be poisonous." However, it is also a healer: "The rhododendrum crysanthum is native to Siberia, where it was used as a remedy for rheumatism and gout."

Good ol' Rhododendron. It can kill or cure, and through it all it retains its loveliness.

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