azalea


azalea
/euh zayl"yeuh/, n.
any of numerous shrubs belonging to a particular group (Azalea) of the genus Rhododendron, of the heath family, comprising species with handsome flower clusters of various colors, some of which are familiar in cultivation: the group was formerly the botanical genus Azalea but is now a horticultural classification.
[1750-60; < NL < Gk azaléa, n. use of fem. of azaléos dry; so named because it grows in dry soil]

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Any plant of certain species of the genus Rhododendron (heath family), formerly given the generic name Azalea.

Though some gardeners consider azaleas distinct from rhododendrons, distinguishing characteristics of the two groups are not consistent enough to separate them into two genera. Azaleas typically are deciduous (see deciduous tree), with flowers that are funnel-shaped, somewhat two-lipped, and often fragrant. Cultivated varieties have been bred from species native to the hilly regions of Asia and North America. Well-known North American kinds include the smooth, or sweet, azalea (R. arborescens); the flame azalea (R. calendulaceum); and the pinxter flower (R. periclymenoides).

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plant
 certain species of Rhododendron, of the family Ericaceae, formerly given the generic name Azalea. Neither the nature of the corolla (ring of petals) nor other characteristics are sufficiently constant to serve as a means of separating these plants into two distinct genera, although azaleas are typically deciduous while rhododendrons are evergreen. Azalea flowers are funnel-shaped, somewhat two-lipped, and often fragrant. Flowers of rhododendrons, on the other hand, are more often bell-shaped. Azalea flowers typically have only 5 projecting stamens, as compared with 10 (or more) in rhododendrons. Intermediate forms, however, do occur.

      Cultivated varieties have been bred from species that are native to the hilly regions of Asia and North America. Well-known North American kinds include the smooth, or sweet, azalea (R. arborescens), a fragrant white-flowering shrub 3 to 6 metres (about 10 to 20 feet) high; the flame azalea (R. calendulaceum), a shrub 0.5 to 2 metres (1.5 to 6.5 feet) high; and the pinxter flower (R. periclymenoides), a shrub 1 to 2 metres (3 to 6.5 feet) high, with pink to whitish flowers. Hundreds of horticultural forms have been bred from the Ghent azalea (R. gandavense); the molle azalea (R. molle); the Yodogawa azalea (R. yedoense); and the torch azalea (R. kaempferi).

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Universalium. 2010.

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