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Deciduous shrub or small tree, to 5 m; young twigs eglandular-hairy. Leaves 5.2-9(-ll) x 1.5-3(-3.5) cm, ovate or obovate to elliptic, lower surface eglandular-hairy, or glabrous. Flower bud scales with outer surface glabrous or occasionally covered with unicellular hairs; margin unicellular-ciliate, rarely also glandular. Pedicels covered with unicellular and/or multi-cellular eglandular hairs. Flowers with a sweet fragrance, appearing before or with the leaves, 6-15, in a shortened raceme; calyx 1-2(-4) mm; corolla deep pink, sometimes with a dark pink to crimson tube, funnelform, tube gradually expanding into limb, outer surface covered in a mixture of eglandular and gland-tipped hairs, 20-47 mm. Capsules eglandular-hairy. Flowering May-June. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
Distribution United States E
Habitat 100-1,000 m
RHS Hardiness Rating H6
Conservation status Least concern (LC)
Taxonomic note Allied to R. canescens but differing in the usually glabrous flower bud scales and the more gradually tapering corolla tube. The name R. nudiflorum, used in the past for this plant, is illegitimate. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
A deciduous azalea up to 9 ft high in its native state; young wood bristly Leaves mostly obovate, some oblong, tapering at both ends, 11⁄2 to 31⁄2 in. long, one-third to half as wide, green on both sides with a few scattered hairs above, bristly on the midrib beneath and on the margins. Flowers faintly scented, in clusters of six or more, the corolla-tube hairy, pink, 3⁄4 in. long; the five lobes paler, expanding, and giving the flower a diameter of 11⁄2 to 2 in.; stalk 1⁄3 to 1⁄2 in. long, bristly like the small calyx; stamens five, pinkish coloured, standing out well beyond the corolla; seed-vessels 3⁄4 in. long, bristly. Blossoms in May. (s. Azalea ss. Luteum)
Native of eastern N. America; introduced by Peter Collinson in 1734. It is one of the chief parents of the great race of garden azaleas, but is itself very rarely seen now. The flowers appear to be variable in colour, even in a wild state, although of some shade of red or pink, or purplish. Of the N. American azaleas, whose flowers expand before the leaves, this differs from R. calendulaceum in the longer-tubed, differently coloured corolla, and in the bristly midrib of the leaf, and from R. canescens in the hairy, not glandular, corolla-tube.