Rhododendron Rhododendron / Azalea • シャクナゲ / ツツジ • 石楠花 / 躑躅 shakunage / tsutsuji
Our Plant List indicates that ‘many’ of them, 18” tall, grow ‘on berm’ in Area A (the area immediately in front of the entrance to the garden) – I never noticed them there, so will look next time; but 2 quite mature ones, 4′ tall also grow inside of the garden, in Area Z. One of them, along the service road, is blooming right now (the end of April), and the other one, a few meters away (but still very well visible from the path) will hopefully bloom a bit later.
From American Rhododendron Society Massachusetts Chapter website written by Sally and John Perkins, of Salem, NH: Rhododendron kiusianum:
This member of Subgenus Tsutsusi, Section Tsutsusi is native to southern Japan where it grows in open woodlands on hillsides at elevations of 1800-2400 feet. It was known to the Japanese for centuries before being botanically described by Makino in 1914. Natural hybrids involving R. kaempferi are common where the two species overlap in southern Japan. This may explain why experts sometimes disagree on key characteristics when describing this species. The epithet ‘kiusianum’ refers to the Japanese island of Kyushu. […]
The Japanese have selected and named more than 40 cultivars of this species (Galle’s book, Azaleas is a good reference for most of these forms.) The Kurume hybrids heavily depend on R. kiusianum var. sataense, which may be a stable hybrid population containing R. kaempferi. Some of the more unusual color forms of R. kiusianum may have at least some R. kaempferi in their background. […]
From Journal American Rhododendron Society: […] R. kiusianum is well known to the Japanese. This azalea is found exclusively on the mountain tops of Kyushu between 1300-1700m. elevation. The earliest work on Japanese azaleas, Kinshu Makura (Handbook of Azaleas), written by a Japanese nurseryman in 1692, includes several named selections of this beautiful azalea. One reason for the early discovery and identification of R. kiusianum was probably its location on Mt. Kirishima, one of the sacred mountains celebrated in Japanese mythology. Ernest Wilson writes in his work, A Monograph of Azaleas (1921), it was on Mt. Kirishima that the God Ninigi, grandson of the sun-goddess Amaterosa, touched down to pave the way for the conquest of Japan. This famous mountain location enabled R. kiusianum to be discovered and cultivated by zealous Japanese pilgrims, who visited Mt. Kirishima and were anxious to have a reminder of their pilgrimage. This practice of plant collection may explain why Ernest Wilson encountered R. kiusianum in a garden on May 5, 1918, and again on October 1, 1918, at the Province Osumi, Kirishima-jinga. […]