USA Official State Flower Official West Virginia State Flower


Big Laurel

(Rhododendron Maximum)
Adopted on January 23, 1903.


The Big Laurel, Rhododendron Maximum, is the state flower of West Virginia. It was selected on January 23, 1903, by the Legislature, following a vote by pupils of the public schools. It is a shrub of the heath family and may be recognized by its large dark evergreen leaves and delicate pale pink or white bloom, mottled with either red or yellow flecks.


  • Leaf: Evergreen, alternate, simple, pinnately veined, 4 to 10 inches long, elliptical, with entire margins. Leaves are dark green and shiny above, whitish with rust colored hair , with rolled edges that curl in winter.
  • Flower: Showy, large, pale pink or white with a corolla of five rounded petals. Flower stems sticky. June to July.
  • Fruit: Many tiny seeds borne in a long stemmed, red-brown capsule (1/2 inch long), splitting along five lines when mature (October).
  • Twig: Stout, whitish green in color, covered with reddish-brown hair. Vegetative buds are small, appearing enclosed in small leaves. Flower buds are egg-shaped, enclosed in rusty, pubescent scales.
  • Bark: Thin, light brown and smooth when young. Broken into thin scales on older stems.
  • Form: A large shrub or small tree with several twisted stems that may form an impassable thicket. Height: 5-40'.
  • Habitat: Wet woods, swamps.
  • Range: Eastern and midwestern United States, Native, but often cultivated.


Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom Plantae -- Plants
Subkingdom Tracheobionta -- Vascular plants
Superdivision Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class Magnoliopsida – Dicotyledons
Subclass Dilleniidae –
Order Ericales –
Family Ericaceae – Heath family
Genus Rhododendron  L. – Rhododendron
Species Rhododendron Maximum macrophyllum D. Don ex G. Don – Pacific rhododendron