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Journal American Rhododendron Society

Current Editor:
Dr. Glen Jamieson ars.editor@gmail.com


Volume 59, Number 4
Fall 2005

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What Is Going On Out There?
Britt Smith
Kent, Washington

        In the fourth year of the Smith-Mossman exploration of "Occidentaleland," we found on Stagecoach Hill in California Rhododendron occidentale SM 402. It displayed beautiful pink flowers, so we marked it with a metal label and collected cuttings for propagation. That evening, back in our room in Crescent City, California, we cleaned and planted those cuttings in the flats which we had prepared and brought along for that purpose. Those cuttings grew and blossomed in our gardens.
        In subsequent visits to Stagecoach Hill, we noticed an interesting peculiarity in some of the flowers on that plant. Some of the branches bore flowers of distinctive difference. Those flowers were of rich, deep red color, smaller, and had very frilly edges on the petals. We were thrilled by this and wondered what "triggered" this variation. The only thing that we could imagine was that excessive exposure to direct sunrays caused the "deformity" on a given plant.

R. occidentale SM 402 showing the change in color
from the usual light pink.
Flowers of R. occidentale SM 402 growing in the author's garden showing
the change in color from the usual light pink (see below) to deep red with
frilly margins on some of the branches.
Photo by Britt Smith
 
R. occidentale SM 402 with the usual 
light pink flowers on the same plant as above.
Flowers of R. occidentale SM 402 with the usual
light pink flowers on the same plant as above.
Photo by Britt Smith
 
Leaves of R. occidentale SM 402 
with 'dis-colored' leaves
Leaves of R. occidentale SM 402 with "dis-colored" leaves on the same plant as above.
Photo by Britt Smith

        This peculiarity subsequently appeared in the plants growing in my garden and in the garden of the Lake Wilderness Arboretum. The peculiarity varies from year to year on a given plant, and from plant to plant. We do not know the possible cause or causes of this peculiarity other than varying degrees of over-exposure to direct sunlight. We suggest it for study by experts in this sort of thing. We do stand by to assist in the study of this subject.
        Photographs show the "dis-color" of the leaves, the rich color of the flowers where the leaf color has changed, and the normal color of the flowers on other branches of that same plant.

Britt Smith is a member of the Tacoma Chapter and a long-time explorer for and observer of R. occidentale.


Volume 59, Number 4
Fall 2005

DLA Ejournal Home | JARS Home | Table of Contents for this issue | Search JARS and other ejournals