QBARS - v28n3 Rhododendron carneum

Rhododendron carneum
John P. Evans, M.D., Oakland, Ca.

R. carneum
R. carneum
Photo by J.P. Evans, M.D.

R. carneum is a member of the Maddenii Series Subseries Ciliicalyx, a native of Upper Burma and usually found at an elevation of 7,500 feet. This species has excellent growth habits and fine dark green foliage with a glaucous undersurface and prominent scales. It may reach five feet in height and three to four feet in spread in seven years. In the garden R. carneum become alive when it blooms from early March to May. Its truss is composed of from 3 to 5 corollas that are typical for the members of this subseries and each is 4 to 4½ inches across and 2½ to 3 inches in length.
If I could have but one example of the Subseries Ciliicalyx I would be hard pressed to pick a favorite but I feel that R. carneum deserves that place. It has a classical truss and living up to its name (flesh colored) has a superb blending of color from a deep pink in the bud to a pastel mixture of pink, yellow and cream when fully opened. This gradually matures to a pure cream white corolla as its final color. The stamens when first appearing are a bone white turning to a walnut brown with age and complementing the changes of colors in the corolla. Adding to the pleasure of having R. carneum in the garden is the presence of a pleasing fragrance typical of the Maddenii Series.