East Coast Native Azaleas
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
Tips on Identification
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
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.
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.
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.
Copyright © 2001 Donald W. Hyatt
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