I’ve got two plants again today. Both the same genus, but very different species. One evergreen, one not; one native, one not; one small growing, one not.
Many azaleas are ubiquitous in southern gardens (too much in my opinion). But when they bloom they are dramatic and people love them. Did you know that azaleas are Rhododendrons? All azaleas and rhodies share the same genus, Rhododendron. Azaleas belong to a couple of subgenera in the rhodie genus–OK that might be more taxonomy than you’d like to know, see below for more.
So, let’s get to the pics!
This is one of the typical garden azaleas. Rhododendron x obtusum*. This is a Kurume type (there are quite a few “types” of azaleas). I’m not sure what cultivar** it is. The Kurumes are one of the earlier blooming azaleas. It has small flowers and a dense habit. They usually grows about four feet high and wide. This poor plant is continually sheared into a rectangle (something which in the right setting, might be appropriate) because it’s too big for it’s space. But it’s simply covered with blooms right now.
This beauty was found on a Cary, NC greenway. It’s a native azalea, probably Rhododendron periclymenoides but could be Rhododendron canescens. They are very similar species. These azaleas lose their leaves in the winter and the blooms come out before the leaves. The effect is of a tiered candelabra enhanced because the plants can get 10′ high or more. The plants grow in woodlands and are usually found near water. Many of these native species are wonderfully fragrant–this one had only a slight fragrance. There are several natives and cultivars of natives available to gardeners, one very similar to this one is Rhododendron canescens ‘Varnadoes Phlox Pink’.
Taxonomy and plant nomenclature lesson:
*The “x” in this name indicates the plant is a hybrid between species. A large “X” is sometimes seen at the beginning of the name which indicates the plant is a hybrid between genera. The former is quite common, the latter not so much.
**A cultivar is a “cultivated variety”. That is, a plant that has been selected in cultivation and propagated so that all the plants labelled as such are the same. The name is shown in single quotation marks after the species name (which is underlined or italicized). A natural “variety” is written after the abbreviation var. and is not in quotation marks, italicized and usually not capitalized–like Rhododendron minus var. Chapmanii. This one is capitalized because the variety is a form of a proper name (likely the patron of the person who named the plant).