Pink Azalea; Pinxter Flower, (Wild Honey-Suckle) (Rhododendron Nudiflorum) is one of our most interesting wild shrubs, interesting because the flowers bloom before the leaves appear, or just as they commence to grow, and because of the very beautiful colors its pink flowers impart to our swamps during April and early May. The flowers are practically the same in form as the white varieties, except that the corolla-tube is shorter. The color varies from just a rosy blush to a crimson pink. This added coloring seems to be at the expense of fragrance, for this species, while sweet scented, is not nearly as fragrant as the White Azalea. When the blossoms commence to fade, they loosen at the base and slip down on the long stamens, where they-often remain suspended for several days before falling off.
Pink Azalea grows in open woods or swamps from Me. to 111. and southwards.
Flame-Colored Azalea (R. Calendulaceum) is a similar species well described by its names. Its large blossoms are orange, usually turning red, but are not fragrant, a still further loss of fragrance in conjunction with a brightening of color. The corolla tube is shorter than the lobes. This species is found from southern N. Y. to Ga.
Rhodora (Rhododendron Canadense) is a beautiful member of this family, immortalized in verse by Emerson. It is a smaller shrub growing from 1 to 3 feet high. The flowers usually appear before the pale green, oblong leaves; the corolla is about one inch long, light magenta, and two-lipped. The upper lip is 3-lobed and the lower is nearly divided into two distinct, linear petals. They grow in thin clusters terminating the branches. Rhodora is found on damp hillsides and in swamps from Newfoundland to Quebec and south to N. J. and Pa., flowering during May and June.
Great Laurel; Rhododendron. Rhododendron maximum.
American Rhododendron; Great Laurel (Rhododendron Maximum) is a large, tall and very ornamental shrub growing from 5 to 35 feet high. It is one of the most characteristic shrubs of the Allegheny Mountain region, where it grows in such profusion as to form almost impenetrable thickets. As it is a very hardy shrub and not injured by transplanting, it is very often used for decorative effects in parks and about private dwellings.
The oblong leaves are deep, glossy green, tough and leathery in texture and have a smooth, slightly rolled-under edge. They droop in the winter season but are wide spread in summer.
At the ends of the numerous branches, during June and July, are showy clusters of pink or white flowers. Each blossom spreads nearly two inches and is composed of five, broad, blunt-ended petals of a pink-white color, spotted with golden-orange. They have ten spreading stamens and a small pistil. The flowers are visited most often by the common bumblebee. Each flower stem is sticky to prevent crawling insects from visiting the interior of the blossom; such insects usually have smooth, shining bodies not capable of transferring pollen and are useless to the welfare of the plant.
Rhododendron is found in rich, hilly or mountainous woods, commonly from Pa. to Ga. but rarly northwards to Ontario and Nova Scotia.