Rhododendron canadense (L.) Torr.
Azalea canadensis (L.) Kuntze
Rhodora canadensis L.
These azaleas differ from others in flower shape sufficiently so they once merited their own genus, which was, naturally enough, Rhodora. They favor stream banks and swamps. A botanical icon of New England, Rhodora has been embraced by poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, and composer Mary Lynn Lightfoot. It became the name of the New England Botanical Club’s journal, in publication continuously ever since 1899.
Leaves: Alternate, simple, elliptic to oblong, gray-green, hairy beneath, ⅜-3" (1-8.3 cm) × ⅛-1" (4-30 mm). In the fall, the rosy-purple rhodora’s leaves turn bluish-purple, while the rarer white-flowered form’s leaves turn yellowish.
Flowers: Flowers are rose-purple, rarely white, in clusters at branch ends. The top three petals of the flower are fused together almost to the end to form a single lobe, whereas the bottom two are completely separate lips. The attractive blossoms are approximately 1½" (3.8 cm) across and have 10 stamens, twice the number of most east coast natives. They flower in early May to June.
Fruits: Orange-brown seed cases are ⅜-⁷/₁₆" (1-1.2 cm) long, occurring in clusters.
Rhododendron canadense on tjhsst.edu
Rhododendron canadense on rosebay.org
Rhododendron canadense at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Rhododendron canadense on Wikipedia
Rhododendron canadense on the New England Wildflower Society’s GoBotany site
Rhododendron canadense on www.rhododendron.org
Rhododendron canadense description by Thomas H. Kent, last updated 12 Oct 2018.