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Jul 16, 2016 11:59 AM

Early bloom season for flowers at Rhododendron State Park

The Associated Press

FITZWILLIAM - It's been an early blooming season for some of the flowers at New Hampshire's Rhododendron State Park, but the heat is threatening some of centuries-old plants, which flower just once a year.

Bushes of Rhododendron maximum, also known as great laurel or rosebay, have been opening their buds this month in a 16-acre grove in Fitzwilliam, in the southwest part of the state.

The plants are rare in New England. This is the largest known group of them in the region, designated a National Natural Landmark in 1982.

Rhododendron maximum are commonly found in the southern and central Appalachians along rocky, wooded slopes.

In the New Hampshire park, their growing conditions, undisturbed through the years, are the key to their longevity.

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