Exploring the Rhododendron Research Network (R-RN)

By Juliana Medeiros, HF&G Plant Biologist

The Rhododendron Research Network (R-RN) was founded at Holden in 2017 to increase collaboration and dissemination of Rhododendron research, to connect scientists with each other and with plant enthusiasts from across the globe.

With 900+ species in the genus, representing a broad range of physiology and ecology, Rhododendron is the focal point of studies all over the world, ranging from horticulture and breeding, to conservation and restoration, to ecology and evolution, to medicinal chemistry and ethnobotany. In addition, Rhododendron’s popularity as ornamental and medicinal plants dates back over 500 years, highlighting the enormous potential of these plants to connect seemingly-distant problems like conservation and medicine, or gardening and climate change, to solve the big mysteries of how biodiversity arises, why it matters to humans, and how to preserve it.

The R-RN has now gained world-wide recognition, attracting and connecting prominent researchers from around the globe for collaborative projects, and inspiring communication and collaborations between scientists and the public. The network is led by Holden Scientist Dr. Juliana Medeiros and Dr. Erik Nilsen of Virginia Tech University, Co-Chairs of the R-RN Steering Committee, enlisting the help of researchers in China, the US, Canada, India, Japan, the UK and Germany, along with community science volunteers based both in ARS and at Holden.

We invite YOU to join our network, sign up for our newsletter, and tell us how our network can advance your work in Rhododendron horticulture, conservation, research, or even in your own garden. Moreover, we hope the R-RN can inspire you to take a second look at Rhododendron: more than just a finicky garden plant, Rhododendrons are one of Earth’s biodiversity treasures, their beauty and scientific value intertwined in the global tapestry of humanity. You can learn all about the goals and accomplishments of the R-RN at http://www.rhodo-research.net.