QBARS - v24n4 A White Catawbiense

A White Catawbiense
D. C. Purdy, Huntington, N.Y.

Rhododendron catawbiense grows profusely along the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia in several areas. One of these is just north of the James River, along the valley of Otter Creek. While this area is only about a thousand feet above sea level, where catawbiense does not ordinarily grow, it apparently succeeds here because the creek, which is rapid and rocky, provides plenty of humidity. The plants include nearly every possible shade from a deep red to almost white. There must be several thousand plants over a stretch of about six miles.
Of all these plants, two are the pure white desired by breeders. Four years ago, there were three, but one cannot he located now. It probably died. One of the remaining is in a thicket near milepost 60, where the creek crosses the road from west to east. It is about one hundred feet north of the bridge and one hundred feet east of the road.
The other is a mile or so further downstream (south) at a place where the creek makes a U bend west of the road. It is a good white, but a poor form of plant. The form should not be held against it, since it is in a shady situation, and projects from the side of a bank. In more favorable situations, catawbiense exhibits better form.