Flame Azalea

By William T. Hathaway
Flame Azalea (Rhododendron calendulaceum)

On one of my trips to the Blue Ridge Mountains in 1971 the Flame Azalea was fairly common throughout various areas of Floyd County, Virginia. My color slides of the flame azalea are dated the tenth of May. Nowadays roaming horticultural collectors have just about wiped out most of the native flame azaleas that were scattered about in unprotected woodlands.

The Flame Azalea (Rhododendron calendulaceum) favors mixed deciduous forests. It is an erect shrub that may reach four meters in height; flowers vary in color from yellow to orange-yellow and scarlet. According to Gray's Manual of Botany the specific name for this species refers to its flowers being colored like the Calendula, a genus of plants which includes the well-known marigold.