Plant Profile: Rhododendron austrinum, Florida Flame Azalea

By Kimberly Williams

This post is one of a series from professor Nisse Goldberg's Botany students at Jacksonville University.

Figure 1. Rhododendron austrinum, Florida flame azalea.
Photo credit: Walter Hodge.
Classification
Kingdom: Plantae
Division: Magniolophyta
Class: Magnoliopsida
Order: Ericales
Family: Ericaceae
Genus: Rhododendron
Specific epithet: austrinum

Common names: Florida Flame Azalea, Honeysuckle Azalea, Deciduous Azalea

Description
The gorgeous Rhododendron austrinum or Florida flame azalea (Figure 1) is found in Baker County and the western portion of the panhandle (Figure 2). Of the five Rhododendron in Florida, Rhododendron austrinum, R. alabamense, and R. minus var. chapmanii are listed as endangered and illegal to remove.
Figure 2. R. austrinum vouchered distribution map.

Florida flame azalea has beautiful bright orange-yellow flowers with connate petals to form a funnel-shaped corolla (Figure 3). Their sweet scent attracts bumble bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies - all desirable pollinators for any garden.

Liberty County's Torreya State Park is a great place to see this plant in its natural habitat. Although it is endangered in the wild, that won't preclude you from growing this appealing plant in your garden to enjoy its beauty, fragrance, and the wildlife it attracts. Once established, Florida flame azalea is a relatively low-maintenance, easy to grow native. To find the closest place to purchase this lovely plant, enter your county at the following link, provided by the Florida Association of Native Nurseries: http://www.floridanativenurseries.org/plants/detail/rhododendron-austrinum
Figure 3. Funnelform corolla of R. austrinum.
Photo credit: Walter Hodge.

References
Floridata: #992 Rhododendron austrinum, http://www.floridata.com/ref/r/rhod_aus.cfm
Wikipedia the Free Encyclopedia: Rhododendron austrinum, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhododendron_austrinum
Wunderlin, R. P., and B. F. Hansen. 2008. Atlas of Florida Vascular Plants (http://www.florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/).[S. M. Landry and K. N. Campbell (application development), Florida Center for Community Design and Research.] Institute for Systematic Botany, University of South Florida, Tampa.

Image Sources
Figure 1. http://florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Photo.aspx?id=2939
Figure 2. http://florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/TempFiles/MapPic_Species2460.jpeg
Figure 3. http://florida.plantatlas.usf.edu/Photo.aspx?id=2938

Comments

Tony Wilson said…
Hey, really awesome post, sounds wonderful!!! From your pictures of your garden on your blog, I bet they would look spectacular! thanks for share!!!

Rhododendron Azaleas
Gladly! Thanks for reading.

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