Sunday, May 13, 2007


Which is it? Is it a rhododendron or an azalea? Can we start by saying that all azaleas are rhododendrons, but not all rhododendrons are azaleas? Well, yes.
My husband asked me what the difference was when I identified a blooming shrub as an azalea on the way home from church this morning. I couldn't give him a really definitive answer, and copped out by saying my understanding was that azaleas were deciduous, and a rhododendron is an evergreen. I really was unsure though, so when I got home I looked it up and here are some of the things I found out. Number one! No wonder I was confused. Even the experts have a hard time distinguishing between the two. Generally, I'm right. USUALLY an azalea is deciduous and the rhododendron is evergreen...but not always! Hmmm.....
So how can you tell the difference between an azalea and a rhododendron? In general, rhododendrons are larger shrubs than azaleas, and have larger leaves. Also, in general, azalea flowers have five stamens, while the rhododendron flowers have ten stamens. Finally, unlike rhododendrons, many azalea plants are deciduous. (Hurray for me!)
So, did I help any? Probably not, I'll still continue to be confused. I can't say that I'll be too quick to go count stamens! Not only that, these shrubs only bloom for a month or so each, for eleven months I'll continue to be unsure. Even if I could count those stamens, I doubt I'd really care that much. They are gorgeous plants, whether they are rhodies or azaleas! Just go out and enjoy them!