Rhododendron occidentale
(deciduous Azalea)
A form at Hindleap, Sussex, May 2002
Photo: Mike Robinson
Subgenus Pentanthera, Section Pentanthera
AM1944 (Kew) to a white flushed rose form,
AGM (1993) 2002
Vigorous deciduous shrub or small tree.
Height to 8m
10 year height/spread: 2m/1.8m
Flowers: tubular funnel shaped, 3 to 6cm long, tube gradually dilated upwards; white, pink, orange-pink, deep pink to almost red, or yellow, almost always with a yellow or orange blotch, usually with or after the leaves in trusses of 5-12; deliciously fragrant.
Double forms have been recorded.
Introduced: about 1850 by Lobb from California
Distribution: S.Oregon to S.California
Recognise by: in spite of the variation, usually identifiable in flower by its sweet scent; stamens about as long as the corolla, gynoecium longer, and the narrow long corolla tube gradually dilated upwards. Hard to distinguish out of flower, but the autumn colour is good - red, pink or yellow. The buds are often attractively coloured - red, pink, purple or yellow.
Epithet: western.
RHS Plantfinder
This species is extremely variable, and plants labelled merely 'R.occidentale' may be almost any colour (see above),but almost all forms are excellent. The parent of many fragrant hybrids but the species itself takes some beating. Many excellent selections have been introduced and named, some relatively recently by Smith and Mossman.