Lady Cynthia is a getting a lot of attention in the Town of Ladysmith, B.C., these days.

The 115-year-old rhodendron is in full bloom. The plant stands more than nine metres tall and almost eight metres wide and sports more than 4,000 pink blossoms.

Its branches are so big, they look like tree trunks.

Local historian Rob Johnson, who is also a former city councillor and past president of the Ladysmith Chamber of Commerce, gave the rhododendron its name. 

"The variety of species of rhododendron is called Cynthia," said Johnson.

"With her being magnificent and with the Town of Ladysmith indirectly named after Lady Smith, I thought it was only fitting that we call her Lady Cynthia."

Taken for granted

The rhododendron is located at 226 Kitchener Street in the front yard of a private home. The owners of the property have taken on the responsibility of taking care of it.

According to Johnson, the owners don't mind people stopping by to snap a few pictures with Lady Cynthia. There's even a bench to sit on and enjoy the view.

But Lady Cynthia hasn't always been as popular as she is right now.

"The townspeople have taken it for granted for years and years — and I was one of those people," said Johnson.

That is, until the website Bored Panda rated Lady Cynthia as one of the top 16 trees in the world.

Johnson said when the list showed up, people in the community finally realized what they had. And now, the historic rhododendron is attracting visitors and media attention from around the world.

"The locals now are appreciating it more and more, because we're starting to realize we have a real gem here," said Johnson.

Because the rhododendron is 115 years old, no one knows exactly where it came from. Depending who you ask, there are two conflicting stories about its history.

One popular theory is that it  was shipped out from England or Scotland in 1904.

"But, the present owner, he contacted the Rhododendron Society of Canada and they suspect it might be a cutting taken off a rhododendron in Beacon Hill Park," said Johnson. "It was planted by a fellow named Fraser in 1878."

Regardless of its ancestry, Lady Cynthia is now quite the draw in the community. And the hope is it will be a boost to tourism in the area.

The Town of Ladysmith is also looking at having a heritage tree preservation bylaw introduced and, of course, Lady Cynthia would be one of the first trees protected.