'Red List' of Threatened Rhododendrons
Reprinted from the Tennessee Valley Chapter newsletter, August 1998
Rhododendrons which are endangered have been identified by one of the world's oldest international conservation organizations, the IUCN. The IUCN was established in Fontainebleau, France, on Oct. 5, 1948, as the International Union for the Protection of Nature." Today it is a union of governments, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations working at the field and policy levels, together with scientists and experts, to protect nature. Its mission, formally stated, is "to influence, encourage and assist societies throughout the world to conserve the integrity and diversity of nature, and ensure that any use of natural resources is equitable and ecologically sustainable." One of its more familiar activities is publication of the IUCN Red List of Threatened Plants, often referred to as the "IUCN Red Book." There are 62 rhododendrons listed in the 1997 edition of that book in several categories ranging from "Extinct" to "Rare."
Following are two lists of rhododendrons included in the "Endangered" and "Vulnerable" categories by the IUCN.
I. Rhododendrons considered endangered, i.e., "Taxa in danger of extinction and whose survival is unlikely if the causal factors continue operating. Included are taxa whose numbers have been reduced to a critical level or whose habitats have been so drastically reduced that they are deemed to be in immediate danger of extinction."
R. chapmanii [now R. minus var. chapmanii]
R. protistum var. giganteum
II. Rhododendrons considered vulnerable, i.e., "Taxa believed likely to move into the "Endangered" category in the near future if the causal factors continue operating. Included are taxa of which most or all the populations are decreasing because of over-exploitation, extensive destruction of habitat or other environmental disturbance; taxa with populations that have been seriously depleted and whose ultimate security is not yet assured; and taxa with populations that are still abundant but are under threat from serious adverse factors throughout their range."
R. chrysanthum [now R. aureum var. aureum
R. dilatatum var. satsumaense [now R. decandrum}
R. fictolacteum [now R. rex ssp. fictolacteum]
R. jucundum [now R. selense ssp. jucundum]
R. yakuinsulare [now R. scabrum]