The following Participating Institutions are custodians for this species in the CPC National Collection:
The Arnold Arboretum of Harvard University
The conservation of Rhododendron prunifolium is fully sponsored.
Irina Kadis contributed to this Plant Profile.
Rhododendron prunifolium is one of the showiest native azaleas and can grow up to 18 ft in height (Wilson and Rheder 1921, Cox 1990, Dirr 1998). The clustered, brightly crimson-colored flowers bloom from mid-July to mid-August, and occasionally in September (Foote and Jones 1994) . The flowers' stamens are very long and project beyond the flower. It is the most glabrous species of all American rhododendrons. Its leaves are alternately arranged on the stem in tight clusters, dark green above, light beneath, smooth (except for the small hairs on the margins). It was first collected by R. M. Harper in the early 1900's and first grown at the Arnold Arboretum in 1918.
Distribution & Occurrence
R. prunifolium can be found growing in low, moist sites in forested (beech-maple-magnolia) ravines along streams. In Canyon Park, Georgia, it is common at forest edges near streams at the bottoms of 150-foot canyons that emerged as a result of farming practices during the mid-19th century (Cox 1990, Dirr 1998, Foote and Jones 1994).
|The Georgia Natural Heritage program discovered 41 populations known from southeastern Alabama and southwestern Georgia recorded from seven counties in Georgia (USFWS 1989)|
Conservation, Ecology & Research
Natural habitats vanish due to plant succession.
Due to erosion after logging, many of the sites suitable for R. prunifolium have vanished.
Sow into milled Sphagnum, maintain humidity under cover, water carefully. Seedlings are tiny and growing slowly. Put them a few per pot first, to reduce the risk of overwatering; repot once they achieve sufficient size.
And from softwood cuttings:
Take cuttings in May-June, keep them under fog or mist in 50/50 sand-perlite. With 2,500-5,000 ppm K-IBA or H # 3 treatment, the rooting rate is 70-80%. Cuttings become more secure once they survive through the first winter.
R. prunifolium was successfully cultivated near Philadelphia, PA (on a southern slope at Gladwyne) and at Callaway Gardens, Pine Mountain, GA.
Cox, P.A. 1990. The Larger Rhododendron species. Oregon: Revised Ed. Timber Press.
Wilson, E.H.; Rehder, A. 1921. A monograph of azaleas. Rhododendron subgenus Anthodendron. Publications of the Arnold Arboretum, No. 9. Cambridge, Massachusetts: The University Press.