The Honey Badger’s rhododendron primer

Thomas Mabry - Honey Badger ImagesOur Town Arts

The rhododendrons are finally blooming, but what variety am I viewing? (Pronouncing all these genres of blooms is as much fun as viewing them.)

The first rhodo photos of the year was the rhododendron periclymenoides, also known as pink azalea or pinxter flower. Many who saw the photo said “mine hasn’t bloomed yet.” The cause perhaps was a shrub of another variety.

The rhododendron carolinianum, which is featured in the foreground of this amazing sunset, is the first native evergreen rhododendron to bloom in the spring in the Southern Appalachian Mountain region. The leaves are generally dark green and the blooms display colors ranging from white to pink to a purple hue in twilight lighting.

The blooms of the carolinianum are smaller than the later blooming catawba in May and June and the rosebay rhododendron in July.

Not to confuse anyone, the carolinianum is also known as the Carolina azalea and colloquially as the Carolina punctatum. I’ve seen the native carolinianum blooming in February, but the real show in areas like the Linville Gorge occurs in middle to late April. The blooming punctatum is a clear indication that spring has sprung in the Southern Appalachians.

Thomas Mabry – Honey Badger Images

Many of the HoneyBadgerImages are on display at


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