Spectacular and beautiful, not many people know the common rhododendron hides a poisonous secret – its nectar is toxic to bees. The resulting honey from rhododendrons has also been known to contaminate honey, making it unsafe for humans to eat.
Beside this, is rhododendron wood poisonous?
Over 1000 species of rhododendrons/azaleas exist. When burned the gryanotoxin is destroyed at temperatures of 150 degrees Celsius and above, and no evidence of toxicity has been found in the smoke or coals of the rhododendron plant. It is a hard long-burning wood and can be used safely.
Are chrysanthemums toxic to humans?
But these plants can be very toxic, particularly to cats, dogs and horses and can cause dermatitis in humans. Chrysanthemums can also cause vomiting, diarrhea, nausea, incoordination and hyper-salivation in animals. That's because chrysanthemums contain toxins such as lactones, pyrethrins and sesquiterpene.
The toxin can cause very low blood pressure and heart rate as well as irregular heart rhythm. These symptoms could be life threatening. Ingestion of the "mad honey" is not the only way people have been poisoned by azaleas and rhododendrons. Eating the leaves, nectar, or flowers of the plants can also lead to toxicity.
Grayanotoxins are produced by Rhododendron species and other plants in the Ericaceae family. Consumption of the plant or any of its secondary products, including mad honey, can cause a very rare poisonous reaction called grayanotoxin poisoning, mad honey disease, honey intoxication, or rhododendron poisoning.
If bees obtain their nectar from certain flowers, the resulting honey can be psychoactive, or even toxic to humans, but innocuous to bees and their larvae. Poisoning from this honey is called mad honey disease. Even when honey is not produced from the nectar of toxic plants, it can still ferment to produce ethanol.
Harmful Honey. Humans generally do not suffer from contact with the mountain laurel plant, except in one case. Honey made by bees that have taken pollen and nectar from flowers of the plant can cause illness when consumed. Signs of poisoning include cardiac arrhythmias, vomiting, mild paralysis and convulsions.
When the plant dies, the protoanemonin no longer retains its toxicity as it is only present in the growing buttercup. Right now, buttercups are in full bloom creating a haven of toxicity for unsuspecting honey bees. When bees eat this stored pollen they experience certain symptoms from the poison within minutes.
So go native. Now, here are some beautiful, no-fuss pollinator gems that you and the hummingbirds, butterflies and bees in your garden will love. A hardy deciduous shrub, Hydrangea (Hydrangea arborescens, Annabelle) is an easy care, deer- and drought-resistant landscape anchor that attracts most pollinators.
Unfortunately, the very common and showy Mophead hydrangeas, or Hydrangea macrophylla hortensis (some seen above) do not feed the bees or other pollinators because their flowers are sterile. But there are other hydrangeas that feed the bees and pollinators while also being great plants for the garden.
The colors of snapdragons are not coincidental. Bees cannot see red, yet do see yellow, blue and ultraviolet. Because of this, snapdragons (along wih other bee-pollinated flowers) are mostly yellow (some blue) with ultraviolet nectar guides or "landing patterns" that attract and help a bee orientate its landing.
Zinnias attract and benefit pollinators. Zinnias themselves are pollinated by insects, typically bees and butterflies. Their bright colors draw pollinators to a garden. Monarch butterflies, in particular, love zinnias and pollinate them and use them for food and egg-laying habitat.
Lilac Attraction. With brilliant purple and bluish petals, lilacs attract numerous bees, especially since the flowers grow in dense clusters. As a result, bees can stay on the blossoms for even more nectar nourishment without having to fly constantly to other plants.
Hummingbirds see bright red, pink, and orange more easily, so choose brightly colored Encore Azaleas for your hummingbird-attracting plantings. The trumpet shape of Encore Azalea flowers is also important for hummingbirds, since they are only able to sip sweet nectar from that shape.
There are varying thoughts on bees and the flavor of their honey, but since bees will travel up to 6.5 miles from their hive, unless you own half the county, few hives will have honey from only one source. But, simply put, bees love lavender in bloom, as they love anything in bloom where they can get nectar or pollen.
For example, open dahlias attracted many bees, especially bumblebees, but pom-pom or cactus dahlias attracted few insects, because their highly bred flowers make it difficult for insects to reach the flowers' pollen and nectar. But all attracted a range of insects.
Sometimes referred to as woodbine and goat's leaf, fragrant honeysuckle's numerous species are known to attract bees, birds and other wildlife. Japanese Honeysuckle produces a vanilla scent and can potentially grow to more than 80 feet. It also possesses double-tongued white flowers that turn yellow as they mature.
2. Avoid Highly-Scented Flowers. Bees are suckers for a sweet-smelling flower. Chrysanthemums, gardenias, lilies and phlox all have powerful odors that will attract bees, so if you want to keep them away, choose blooms that have less of a scent.
Some beautiful flowers that attract bees:
- Bee balm (Monarda sp.)
- Blackeyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta)
- Stonecrop (Sedum spp.)
- Goldenrod (Solidago spp.)
- Butterfly Bush – (Buddleja davidii)
- Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea)
- Joe-pye weed (Eutrochium purpureum)
- Lavender (Lavendula augustifolia)
Now there is an insect you can depend on; the sweet honey bee. Bees do love the single (picture above) and double peony (below) and their nectar. However, there is a petal type called the “bomb double” (picture below) that does not produce pollen so the bees do not visit them, but they are so beautiful.
Bees are attracted to tubular-shaped flowers that they can crawl into, or small, flat flowers that they can walk on. They like blooms with abundant nectar. To find plants that do not attract bees, look for those with the opposite bloom characteristics and avoid planting flowering fruit trees, poppies and roses.
Azaleas. Azaleas are a member of the Rhododendron family and their name means “the royalty of the garden.” These plants work in different types of environments and are fairly easy to maintain. These plants don't attract bees because they bloom earlier in the season and bees are not yet out looking for pollen.