Rhododendron is a species of bushy tree that grows in the Appalachian Mountains. This tree grows in a manner similar to, and is also closely related to the mountain laurel. Both are in the family Ericaceae which is a type of tree that prefers a more acidic soil. These types of soils are common on the decaying mountainsides of the Appalachians where a thin layer of extremely rich leaf litter topsoil covers an acidic, clay dirt.
Since both of these trees are closely related and grow in similar conditions, they share a general appearance. appearance. The branches of both grow into similar sinuous shape and both have glossy, dark green evergreen leaves. In the wild, the flowers are the most striking difference in the spring. Mountain laurel bloom in creamy white and pink bushes while the rhodos are often pink and purple. Rhododendron has been cultivated as a landscaping plant and is now available in many different colors.
Rhododendron railings look almost identical to railings made with mountain laurel. The main difference is the bark of the mountain laurel has lines along the length while the rhododendron branches have a smoother bark with some splotches.