Rhododendron-Like Bush

East Bridgewater, MA

I saw this in a pile of brush by a suburban roadside in SE MA. It was an apparent evergreen. Any idea what it is?

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Scott County, KY(Zone 5b)

That's one of the small-leaved evergreen Azaleas (Rhododendron sp.) - can't remember my Lepidotes from Elepidotes...

Look up Rhododendron 'PJM' - note resemblance. Massachusetts born and bred...

East Bridgewater, MA

So Azaleas are rhododendrons? Maybe that's a dumb question but I honestly never knew that.

Scott County, KY(Zone 5b)

Azalea is a common name for some Rhododendron sp.

Not a dumb question, but a reason to continue to pursue general knowledge...

Saint Louis, MO(Zone 6a)

I've always thought of azaleas as being the small-leafed rhododendron species.
Maybe there's a more formal distinction.

A quick jump ahead after googling it.
Here's a comment from Dirr:

"True rhododendrons have 10 or more stamens which is 2 per lobe. Azaleas usually have 5 stamens or 1 per lobe. Azaleas have 5 lobes in a flower.
Azaleas tend to have appressed hairs which is hair parallel to the surface of the leaf. This is particularly true along the midrib on the underside of the leaf. It is easily seen in "evergreen" azaleas. True rhododendrons instead of hair are often scaly or have small dots on the under side of the leaf. Azalea leaves are never dotted with scales and are frequently pubescent.
Many azaleas are deciduous. True rhodi's are usually evergreen with the exceptions of R. mucronulatum and R. dauricum.
Azaleas have tubular funnel or funnel shaped flowers. Rhodi flowers tend to be bell-shaped."

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

I never knew it either, but I inherited a PJM rhodie - took me three years to identify it. It's great because it's fully hardy. It has been on the south side of this zone 5a yard for at least 35 years.

A wonderful plant!

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Scott County, KY(Zone 5b)

I live in a quite calcareous limestone based soils region, so have never glommed onto too many ericaceous species like the Rhododendron tribe.

I have, however, cared for and provided to clients more than a few of these plants over the years. One of my favorite places to purchase them - to demonstrate hardiness - has been Beaver Creek Nursery in northern IL/southern WI. They are growing quite a number of evergreen and deciduous species successfully in the field as B&B plants. If it is hardy as field-grown stock there, it should be fine in residential landscapes at least that far north.

Elgin, IL(Zone 5a)

By the way, Neefman, if it's a dumb question, I was dumb too. I come from the land of clay. I thought it was an azalea. A kind person on this forum explained to me that it was a rhodie, and then identifying it was easy, because it has been in place, as I mentioned, for over 30 years. The fact that it was evergreen should have told me that it was probably NOT an azalea. I certainly don't have VV's expertise.

The interesting thing is that the texts talk about a protected location away from full sun. Mine is on the south side of my property. The only difference I noticed was that once I started using Ironite on it to acidify it, and popped a soaker hose under it for convenience of watering, it became 30% bigger.

Morton Arboretum, in the Chicago area, has them:


The Missouri Botanic Garden site, which I use a lot, indicates zone 4 hardiness:


And, being compulsive, I went to the library and checked out a book.

I must say that, much to my surprise, I have come to love this plant. I grow a Deutzia Chardonnay Pearls at its feet. As PJM's flowers fade, the deutzia starts to step up.

The bumble bees' favorite plant at this time of year. Later it's Joe Pye Weed. Whoa!

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