Origin: E Balkan Peninsula and SW Asia.
A very common species much planted in Victorian times and now established as dense shrubberies in parks and demesnes. It spreads readily and has become a notorious nuisance in many places, like Rhododendron ponticum with which it often grows in Ireland.
Part of its native range in Asia lies around the Black Sea, where it grows alongside native Rhododendron ponticum.
The plant forms large, dense, evergreen shrubberies; the white flowers are produced in attractive upright spikes in April, and are followed by small cherry-like fruits. The plant is very poisonous, with abundant cyanide content and the thick, leathery leaves have been used traditionally as a killing agent by entomologists.