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Pontic rhododendron
Rhododendron ponticum

The Rhododendron ponticum is a evergreen shrub with a highly branched stem reaching up to 3 m high. The species is in a family with the piranha, the kaluna, the Strandzha bilberry and the cummer (also known as strawberry tree). The flowers of the Pontic rhododendron are large, purple-pink, collected at the top of branches in umbrella inflorescences. Because of its beautiful large colors, it is considered a symbol of the Strandzha Mountain. It blooms continuously from mid-April to mid-May, depending on the temperatures in the spring. The leaves are glossy green, large, oblong-lanceolate. The whole plant is rich in alkaloids and is highly poisonous.

Pontic rhododendron is a tertiary relic. Through the Tertiary, she met north to the Scandinavian Peninsula, in today's Sweden. Today, it has been preserved only in Strandzha and the Caucasus. The species, like most tertiary relicts, is highly vulnerable. In Bulgaria, the places it inhabits are extremely small - on the steep slopes and the deep valleys as a subway in the shady beech and oak forests of Strandzha.

The Pontic rhododendron is included in the Red Book of Bulgaria and is protected by the Biological Diversity Act as well as by a number of international conventions and agreements.
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