Thursday, 26 May 2011


This is a common question that I often get asked. Rhododendron and azaleas do look very similar, and they can often be confused.  Not surprising when you consider there are hundreds of related plants in this family than can appear nearly identical when flowering.  
Rhododendrons and azaleas are flowering shrubs that are two species within a genus. The Rhododendron family includes varieties of both azalea and rhodendron, therefore all azaleas' are rhodendrons but not all rhododendrons are azaleas. Both species in this genus differ in plant traits. 
Characteristics to look out for when distinguishing each species are identified below. However, these are a guide as not all azaleas and rhododendrons conform to these rules.
  • Flowers are typically bell shaped and are held above the foliage.
  • Flowers are typically larger than azaleas, 2-8" diameter.
  • Flowers have 5 lobes.
  • Rhododendrons typically have 10 stamens per plant, two per flower lobe.
  • Leaves are larger, 2-6" long, dotted with scales underneath. 
  • Leaves are more rounded at their ends.
  • Many rhododendrons are evergreen.

  • Flowers are funnel shaped and bloom across the foliage.
  • Flowers are typically smaller than rhodendrons, typically 1-3" diameter.
  • Flowers have 5 lobes.
  • Azaleas typically have 5 stamens per plant, one per flower lobe.
  • Azaleas leaves are smaller, 1-2" long, and have underside leaf hairs
  • The leaves are more slender and pointed than rhododendrons.
  • Many azaleas are deciduous.

Notable exceptions to the characteristics above are Rhododendron mucronulatum and Rhododendron dauricm, which are deciduous. Rhododendron flammeum has a flower consisting of 5 lobes and 5 stamens, whilst Rhododendron canadense is an azalea with 10 stamens.

For related articles click onto:
Shade loving fruit and nuts
Vegetable crop rotation
What is the difference between a vegetable and a fruit?
What is the difference between a rambling and climbing rose?
What is the difference between a Viola and a pansy?

No comments:

Post a Comment