Not to be outdone by Mountain Laurel (which is also blooming now in mid-May in the Appalachians from Pennsylvania to Georgia) is the wild and magnificent Flame Azalea! This tall shrub sets the spring woods on fire, and that’s a fact!
Wild azaleas don’t grow like the compact shrubs we are all used to in our gardens. These plants can grow up to 12 feet in height, and because of the open architecture of its branches, mature plants can look more like young trees. The showy flowers appear around the same time that new leaves are forming, and they vary in color from orange to red to yellow. The explosion of color in the mid-level understory is a real treat and always a welcome surprise.
These azaleas were photographed in the oak-hickory forests of Brush Mountain, near Blacksburg, VA. Click on any picture to open a larger viewer.