R. 'Powell Glass': A White Variant of R. catawbiense
by Edmund Amateis, Brewster, N.Y.
This is a fifth generation, lineal descendant of the original plant discovered by Mr. Powell Glass in the mountains of Virginia in 1936. As told in the following story by Mrs. Glass, seeds from the original plant were sent to Mr. Gable. Mr. Gable selected from this F2 group a clone that he named R. 'Catalgla', a portmanteau-word composed of CATawbiense, Album, GLAss. In 1947 1 bought from Mr. Gable some seeds of this clone. This was the third generation and as might be expected it segregated into whites, pinks and shades of lavender.
I crossed best white to best white and in the fourth generation the proportion of whites was more than half. Again best white to best white of the fourth generation were crossed and this spring ten that bloomed, out of a batch of fifteen, were all white. I feel reasonably certain that the white genes were now well stabilized and that R. 'Powell Glass' can be bred without fear of throwing any tints of purple. As care was exercised in the selection of parents I have noticed no diminution in plant vitality. The leaves are full-sized and green, growth is vigorous and each terminal is tipped with a floral bud, in many cases with two and three. As an aid to the breeder in the production of purer colors and extreme hardiness, I consider R. 'Powell Glass' to be one of the most important finds of the past quarter-century. Considering its importance and the interest it has aroused, I am including a few notes about Mr. Glass and a letter from Mrs. Glass.
Mr. Glass the son of Senator Carter Glass, was one of the leading citizens of Lynchburg, where he was the Assistant Publisher and General Manager of "The News" and "The Daily Advance." He served as a Major in the 317th. Inf. in World War I and again served in World War 2. He gave much of his energy to the civic, social and religious life of his community. He died in Lynchburg, Va., in July 1945.
In requesting Mrs. Glass' advice in the matter of a name, I was delighted when she consented that it be called, POWELL GLASS. I feel it most appropriate that this valuable shrub should he named for the man who discovered and gave it to the world. This is the story of its discovery as told to me by Mrs. Glass:
"Mr. Glass saw the white rhododendron while fishing in a mountain stream, Dancing Creek. There were several bushes in white flower among the usual purple ones. He was startled and interested. At once he marked some of the plants for future identification. That autumn he returned to remove some of the plants having received permission to do so from the authorities of the national park. There was much difficulty - no road and heavy underbrush. The plants had to be, one at a time, put on a horse drawn drag and taken a distance to a motor truck. Not the next year, but the second year (after much correspondence with several rhododendron experts including Mr. Gable - all discouraging) he gathered the seeds and sent them to Mr. Gable. In four years Mr. Gable reported two plants in flower. The next year, more flowers and all true in color. By that time the beetles had come into that zone and Mr. Glass could not bring his plants here. Finally, however, he did send a friend who brought in his car five, I think, of the plants. Of the original clones from the mountain I have only one small plant which I am treasuring. As to name - I could wish that my husband's name might live in so beautiful a flower."
And so, Mrs. Glass, it shall.