Rhododendrons

occidentale AGM

Rhododendron occidentale

Subgenus Pentanthera Section Pentanthera

Species deciduous azalea

Synonym: The Pacific or Western azalea

Epithet: Western

AGM (1993) 2002

AM1944 (Kew) to a white flushed rose form

H6

Vigorous small, medium or large shrub 0.6-4.5m in height; sometimes a small tree up to 8m in the wild

Flowers: Trusses of 5-12 flowers but this can be variable, with up to 54 flowers in best selected forms, usually opening with or after the leaves; tubular funnel shaped. Flowers are normally 30-60mm long × 35-50mm wide; tube gradually dilated upwards; white, pink, orange-pink, deep pink to almost red, or yellow, almost always with a yellow or orange blotch; double forms have been recorded. The flower buds are often attractively coloured red, pink, purple or yellow

May-July

Scented, can be very fragrant

Foliage: Bright or dark green leaves, oblanceolate, lanceolate, oblong-lanceolate, obovate or elliptic. Leaves are 25-108mm long × 8-36mm wide; pubescent, margin densely strigose; underside minutely pubescent, midrib strigose. Deciduous. Good autumn leaf colour

Distribution: South Oregon to Southern California from sea level to 2750m

Other information: introduced by William Lobb, who sent seed from California to the Veitch Nurseries in about 1850. This species is geographically isolated from all other species deciduous azaleas. The wide range and conditions mean that this can be a very variable species of almost any flower colour. There are over 200 selected forms mostly resulting from the collections of Smith and Mossman, such as ‘Crescent City Gold’

Occidentale is very prone to powdery mildew both in the wild and in cultivation. Treatment with a fungicide immediately after flowering should be considered where necessary

Worth growing for the attractive and fragrant flowers. Easy to grow; prefers a situation near water with good air flow around the plant. Some forms are commercially available

Location: Surrey

Photo: Myra Usher

Location: Kent

Photo: Henny and Peter Shotter

Location: Wales

Photo: Ivor Stokes

Location: Surrey

Photo: Jim Inskip Archive