QBARS - v6n4 Rhododendron albiflorum

Rhododendron albiflorum
Ben Lancaster

R. albiflorum catalogued in 1834, illustrated and described by Hooker in Bot. Mag., 3670 (1839) is one of the little known American species. As described in the book "The Species of Rhododendrons" published by the English Rhododendron Society, it has the distinction of being the only member of this azalea series.

It is known to exist only in the higher elevations of the Cascade Mountain Range, from British Columbia and Alberta through Washington and Oregon. As one of our American species this plant has always interested me and I have inquired and searched for it fruitlessly for several years. I have never heard of it in cultivation. On July 29th of this year I was agreeably surprised when a friend, Mr. Fred Sievers (National Chairman for Wild Flowers of the Men's Garden Clubs of America and member of the A.R.S.) returned from one of his alpine expeditions on Mt. Adams with several herbarium specimens which were easily identified. The following week, July 27th, he and I returned to the location, which is at a National Forest camp near a lake side and observed them growing in various conditions from open hillsides, thick timber, and down to the boggy lake edge where they seemed to be at their best, with open exposure to the north.

On that date they were in prime bloom and we obtained numerous photographs in black and white and color. The mature plants growing in the open seemed to have a splendid growing habit, rather bushy, 3 to 4 feet in height and as broad. Flowers 1 to 1ΒΌ inches, cream white, bell shaped in pairs and threes, from axillary buds along branches of previous years growth. Plants are in full leaf when bloom appears, giving a delightful effect with the bright green foliage.

Observation of its varying growing conditions in the wild, indicates a tolerance for many garden situations, if it can be grown successfully at our lower altitudes. We shall know what it will do under cultivation shortly as we have a 6 inch pot of seedling germinated as of this date.

We shall be very happy to introduce this deciduous azalea to the gardening world with the belief that it will make a splendid addition to the already extensive number of cultivated plant. that have had their origin as wild flowers and shrubs in our own Pacific Northwest.