Mystery Azalea – Part 2

Being the part(s)  I should have mentioned last post. The azalea is a very early bloomer, and it’s growing in the mid Hudson Valley, zone 5b, where many very spiffy azaleas are – at least theoretically – not hardy. According to the USDA, our average winter lows are somewhere around 10 below. According to recent history, it’s more like 2 or 3 below, max. But still.

Also neglected to show a mugshot in which the freckles were easy to see, so here they are:

mystery evergreen azalea, white 

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  • Your unknown azalea is either ‘Treasure’ or its sister-seedling ‘Sheila’. They are two of the 454 Glenn Dale hybrids that were introduced by the Federal Government beginning in the early 1940’s. Interupted by World War II, the Glenn Dale Azalea introduction program concluded in the early 1950s. The formula that produced ‘Treasure’ and ‘Sheila’ is ‘Fielder’s White’ X kaempferi. The seed parent, ‘Fielder’s White’, is a form of Rhododendron mucronatum which accounts for the “fuzzy” leaves. The pollen parent is Rhododendron kaempferi (another azalea species). There is a nice photograph of ‘Treasure’ on the Web site of The Azalea Society of America (ASA) which you will easily find if you Google on the term azalea. There’s a lot of good information there and a bunch of excellent images. The ASA also supports a maillist where you can post questions.

    Regarding one of the posted comments, ‘Mrs. G. G. Gerbing’ is a white sport of ‘George Lindley Taber’, a Southern Indian hybrid which is a marginal performer for me here in Maryland. Not a candidate for points north.

    Incidently, you probably noticed that I used single quotes. It is proper to enclose cultivar (CULTIvated VARiety) names in single quotes. Also, the generic and specific epithets (e.g., Rhododendron mucronatum) should be italicized. I didn’t see that italics were possible here.

    For a solid foundation, the current definitive work on azaleas is AZALEAS by Fred C. Galle. It replaced THE AZALEA BOOK by Frederic P. Lee. Both are excellent resources for anyone interested in azaleas. If you are interested in learning more about the Glenn Dale hybrids, I have two books available on my Web site, The Azalea Works.

  • Dean Temple Said,

    They had azeleas where I grew up. It was hot there so I moved up here.

  • leslie Said,

    Mr. Miller,

    Thank You! For your id and for your very informative site. Knowing zip about rhododendrons I feel quite proud of myself for spotting the R. mucronatum influence (you’re right, I don’t think we can use italics in the comments; very frustrating). And an introduction in the late 40’s or early 50’s sounds perfectt. My sense of the person who put in our ancient shrubs is that she was an avid gardener who would have been entranced by the latest thing; and she was doing her planting in the 60’s and 70’s.
    Saying this because I’m pretty sure it was Miss Wells, last of the family that built the house in (roughly) 1870.

    welcome Dean,

    There’s no escaping azaleas; as you may have noticed they’re everywhere in one form or another. But I’m with you on southern weather — let’s just hope it doesn’t get any hotter here. ( looks to be headed for the 80’s again today and it ain’t even June. Phooey)

  • Leigh Said,

    Yay for Mr. Miller the azalea guru! I almost mentioned Fielder’s White, but I’ve only seen one ever and I couldn’t remember much about its growth habit.

    It’s a shame you’re too far away for a cutting, Leslie. I would love to get some going on my mist bench. A sweet-smeller would be a hit down here.

    Alas, I bet it’s too hot here in Austin for it. We’re over a hundred degrees here already. Today we had a cold front, so the high was only 98. We were having temps in the 80s back in early April. Right now an 85 degree day would be like fall to us. I am lucky here; there is always a cool breeze on the south side of our property, which has some shade, and which is where my shade nursery is.

    I’ll see if I can get hold of a rooted cutting of ‘Treasure’ or ‘Sheila’ over the net. It would be a worthwhile experiment in pots so that I can control the microenvironment and keep it fairly cool, particularly since you say it’s not ugly with spent bloom.

    Mr. Miller, thanks for all the info. I’ll be visiting your web site soon!

  • Leigh Said,

    By the way, Mr. Miller has a picture of Rosa ‘Nacogdoches’, a found rose from my home town in East Texas. It is, as he points out, foolishly being renamed ‘Grandma’s Yellow’. I have no intention of calling it that, no matter how much Greg Grant, its discoverer, wants me to! I gave one plant to my sister two years ago, and it is really a winner . . . yellow roses are her favorite, and it’s hard to find one that can hold up to our heat.

    Oh, well, I suppose Greg worries that no one can spell “Nacogdoches”. And that’s certainly true.

  • leslie Said,


    Re: Azaleas: Thanks for being a voice for the many gardeners who have it a lot hooter than we do. The poor Hudson Valley has been having a heat wave, with temperatures in the 90’s for several days, topping out here – on the shaded west porch – at 99 around 4 PM yesterday ( 6/10).
    Then we had a humongous thunderstorm, with what felt like hurricane winds – for about 5 minutes. Torrential rains for about 8 minutes and then just some much needed heavy rain. It is now an agreeable 64 on the same porch and the forecast is for mid 80’s, which may be fall like to you but just makes me long for Maine.

    Yellow Roses: Persnickety things. You can’t find many to take the heat; I can’t find many to take the cold. Or, more accurately, many that are described as able to take the cold. As far as I can tell, published literature and individual experience are often at great odds in the hardiness department.

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