Rhododendron eastmanii is a very rare species growing in
only a few locations in two South Carolina counties. The current known
population is on the order of only 500 plants. Only recently discovered,
and its existence first published in November 1999 by Dr. Kathleen Kron and Mike Creel, this
is the newest native azalea species. Selected forms are being propagated
and will be distributed to the the public in time, so please do not
disturb any plants in the wild. Appreciate this rare and beautiful
species, and please assist those who are trying to protect its native habitat.
Like several of the native azaleas in the "white group",
R. eastmanii flowers after the leaves have expanded. It is
clearly different from R. arborescens with the
familiar red stamens, since R. eastmanii's
stems are not smooth but are covered with hairs, or pubescense.
In many ways, it is more closely aligned with the west coast native,
R. occidentale, but is obviously different
due to its geographical isolation and some other minor characteristics.