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Mountain Azalea
Rhododendron canescens

So this native azalea not only has many different common names, but it also is the most common native azalea in the Southeast. The ones here at Middle Way Nature Reserve has a very light pink colored flower. In general species of Rhododendron are highly infertile, and generally hybridize frequently, so it can be hard to really nail down which species you’re looking at.

According to Wildflowers & Plant Communities, as a result of the infertility among the species, it is easier to produce hybrid plants. “Over 25,000 cultivars of Rhododendron have been developed through controlled crosses between parent species with desirable characteristics. Hybrid rhododendron cultivars first appeared about 1825, with some of the earliest hybrids produced between two species native to our mountains: Catawba and rosebay rhododendron.”

Alternate Names: Wild Azalea, Honeysuckle Azalea, Piedmont Azalea, Sweet Azalea, Hoary Azalea, Southern Pinxterflower
Size:  Up to 8' tall.
Family: Ericaceae (Heath Family) 
Habitat: Moist, well-drained soil. . Acid-based, Sandy, Sandy Loam, Medium Loam. 
Identification: "Wild azalea is a showy shrub growing up to 8 feet tall. Leaves are alternate, deciduous, clustered, 1 1/2-4 inches long and 3/4-1 1/4 inches wide. They are firm and thick, with a dark green upper surface. The sticky, slightly fragrant flowers, which bloom before the leaves are mature, grow in whorl-like clusters. They are pink (rarely white), trumpet-shaped, about 1 inch long, flaring into 5 petal-like lobes. There are 5 stamens, 1-1 3/4 inches long, that extend well beyond the petals, and a pistil equal to or exceeding the stamens in length. The flowers exude a delicate fragrance and usually appear before the thin, velvety, elliptic leaves." From wildflower.org. Blooms March-May
All text and photos copyright © 2022 Middle Way Nature Reserve, unless noted.
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