Western Azalea (Rhododendron occidentale)
In the same southern Oregon fen where we found the unusual pitcher plant, these amazing flowering shrubs were just beginning to bloom. This is one of three rhododendron species that grow wild in the northwest; the other two being the more common (and as yet unposted) pink macrophyllum, and white albiflorum, The word Rhododendron is Greek for “Rose Tree”. The word “azalea” also comes from the greek azaleos meaning “dry”, referring to the dry soils the shrub usually prefers. This species is prevalent in southern Oregon and much of California. Winds keep coastal shrubs small (a few feet), while inland they can grow much taller (over 10 feet).