East Coast Native Azaleas
Tips on Identification

by Donald W. Hyatt
There are fifteen azalea species that are native to the eastern United States and one species native to the west coast. This web site is designed to help people identify the various forms. It uses techniques defined by Dr. Kathleen A. Kron as published in The Azalean, the journal of the Azalea Society of America in December 1996 and September 1997, and research by Dr. Kron and Mike Creel regarding the recent discovery of a new azalea species. The web site also uses additional information from The Rhododendron Species, Volume IV: Azaleas by H. H. Davidian. The author wishes to thank those who have provided graphics used in the site, as specified in the Acknowledgements Page.

The native azaleas can be classified into three general groups according to flower color: the "white group", the "pink group", and the "orange group". After this first division is made, a few simple questions related to season of bloom, plant characteristics, or other details can be used to discriminate between the various forms.

1. The White Group

The white flowered group includes six species. Four of these species have been well known in the eastern United States: Rhododendron alabamense, R. arborescens, R. atlanticum, and R. viscosum. The white group also includes a newly discovered species from South Carolina, R. eastmanii, as well as R. occidentale from the west coast. Although the flowers in this group are primarily white, there are occasional forms that are pale pink or tinged with pink.
White Group: R. alabamense

2. The Pink Group

All of the species in the pink group bloom in early spring, usually before the leaves have fully expanded. There are five species in this group: R. canadense, R. canescens, R. periclyminoides, R. prinophyllum, and R. vaseyi. Flowers can range from pale pink, to deep rose, to almost cherry red.
Pink Group: R. prinophyllum

3. The Orange to Red Group

The flowers of the species in the orange group can range from yellow, through gold, to deep orange or scarlet. The five species in this group include R. austrinum, R. calendulaceum, R. cumberlandense, R. flammeum, and R. prunifolium.
Orange Group: R. calendulaceum

Copyright © 2001 Donald W. Hyatt


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