Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Snow Azalea

Well, first of all, if any common name conjured up the this time of year, I think it would have to be 'snow azalea' - the common name for Rhododendron mucronulatum. It's called that because it blooms so early in the spring that it could be sitting on a few inches of snow. I'm happy to say that when I encountered this plant this morning in Central Park, this was not the case.

On a personal note, this photo wasn't taken with my trusty Canon, but instead with a new toy - my new iPhone. There's a special joy in having this; now I can listen to streaming radio on a run in the park and take snapshots like this. Of course the quality's not quite as good, but it beats retracing my steps this Saturday with a regular camera, only to find the blooms have fallen.

Back to the plant. Rhododendron mucronulatum is native to Korea and parts of East Asia. It's natural habitat is on rocky slopes at elevations of one to five thousand feet. You can see how it would then enjoy this location, on a hillside in the park.

As I've mentioned before, Rhododendron, in Greek, literally means rose-tree (rhodo: rose; dendron: tree). The species name essentially means little points, referring to the small points on the end of the leaves. Evidently, when crushed, the leaves emit a pleasant fragrance. Though we need a bit more time before we can test that out.


Anonymous said...

I believe our Church has several of these and they are in a sunny sheltered area. If they are the same they bloom almost three times a year. They are completely in flower now. They are purple or lilac.

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