A shrub from two to six feet high. Leaves. - Narrowly oblong, downy underneath, usually appearing somewhat later than the flowers. Flowers. - Pink, clustered. Calyx. - Minute. Corolla. - Funnel-shaped, with five long recurved lobes. Stamens. - Five or ten, long, protruding noticeably. Pistil. - One, long, protruding.
Our May swamps and moist woods are made rosy by masses of the pink azalea which is often known as the wild honeysuckle, although not even a member of the Honeysuckle family. It is in the height of its beauty before the blooming of the laurel, and heralds the still lovelier pageant which is even then in rapid course of preparation.
In the last century the name of Mayflower was given to the shrub by the Swedes in the neighborhood of Philadelphia. Peter Kalm, the pupil of Linnaeus, after whom our laurel, Kal-mia, is named, writes the following description of the shrub in his "Travels," which were published in English in 1771, and which explain the origin of one of its titles : "Some of the Swedes and Dutch call them Pinxter-bloem (Whitsunday-flower) as they really are in bloom about Whitsuntide; and at a distance they have some similarity to the Honeysuckle or 'Lonicera.' Its flowers were now open and added a new ornament to the woods. . . . They sit in a circle round the stem's extremity and have either a dark red or a lively red color; but by standing for some time the sun bleaches them, and at last they get to a whitish hue. . . . They have some smell, but I cannot say it is very pleasant. However, the beauty of the flower entitles them to a place in every flower-garden." While our pink azalea could hardly be called "dark red " under any circumstances, it varies greatly in the color of its flowers. The azalea is the national flower of Flanders.
Plate LXV. Pink Azalea. - R. nudiflorum