Rhododendron flammeum

Subgenus Pentanthera Section Pentanthera

Species deciduous azalea

Synonym: Rhododendron speciosum; Oconee azalea; Piedmont azalea;

Epithet: Flame coloured


A much-branched stoloniferous shrub, 0.3-1.8m in height

Flowers: Rounded trusses of 6-15 tubular funnel-shaped, single flowers opening with or before the leaves. Flowers are 30-35mm long × 30-50mm wide; scarlet, bright red or orange; large orange blotch; outer surface pubescent


Not scented

Leaves: bright or dark green, elliptic, obovate or oblong leaves; chartaceous; 30-82mm long × 13-27mm wide; ciliate, strigillose; underside often finely pubescent. Deciduous

Distribution: Central Georgia to South Carolina, in open woodland, on dry slopes and sandy stream bluffs along the Edisto and Savannah River basins to 500m

Other information: Closely related to R. cumberlandense and R. prunifolium; flowers slightly earlier and can have more flowers in a truss than R. cumberlandense. One of the oldest known species deciduous azaleas. Recorded at Kew in 1789 so it may be in the parentage of many of the hybrid deciduous azaleas available today

Easy to grow; tolerates sun and heat but will not perform well when summer temperatures are cool; poor drainage will result in root rot; commercially available

There are a number selected forms including R. flammeum ‘Harry’s Red’ and ‘Red Inferno’ (wild collected)

R. flammeum 'Red Inferno'

Location: southern Missouri, USA

Photo: Anne Guelker

R. flammeum 'Harry's Red'

Photo: Jim Inskip Archive