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Rhododendron catawbiense 'Lee's Dark Purple'

(Lee's Dark Purple Rhododendron)


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Common Names

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Common Names in English:

Lee's Dark Purple Rhododendron, Rhododendron


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Family Ericaceae

Plants usually woody, or herbs, sometimes lacking chlorophyll. Leaves spiral , sometimes decussate, margin often toothed . Inflorescence racemose; bracteoles paired , basal. Flowers (4 or) 5-merous. Calyx imbricate. Corolla connate , imbricate. Stamens 10, sometimes with spurs or awns , dehiscing by pores , pollen in tetrads , rarely single. Ovary superior or inferior, placentation axile , rarely parietal , often many ovules per locule. Style ± as long as corolla, slender. Fruit a capsule or berry, rarely a drupe; calyx persistent.

About 125 genera and 4000 species: widely distributed in temperate and subarctic regions, also at high elevations in tropical regions ; 22 genera and 826 species (524 endemic) in China.

The Monotropoideae are here included in the Ericaceae; previously in FRPS (56: 157 216. 1990), they were treated as the Pyrolaceae. Chiogenes, recorded from China in FRPS (57(3) : 69 71. 1991), is here included in Gaultheria. Over the last half century, the Empetraceae have usually been separated from, but closely associated with, the Ericaceae. In their ecology, leaf morphology and insertion , rusts, embryology, stamen anatomy, etc. , they largely agree with that family . Molecular data place Empetrum and its relatives firmly within the Ericaceae, and in particular within the subfamily Ericoideae, in agreement with phytochemical and palynological data, and there they are best recognized as a separate tribe . There are distinctive features of the Empetreae that were responsible for their past familial status, e.g. , reduced perianth with separate members , low ovule number, enlarged stigmas, etc. However, these are likely to be derived features associated with wind pollination. See Kron et al. (Bot. Rev. 68: 335 423. 2002) and the recent treatment of the Ericaceae by Stevens et al. (in Kubitzki, Fam. Gen. Vasc. Pl. 6: 145 194. 2004) .

Several genera and many species are ornamentals . Some fruits of Vaccinium in N China are sweet and edible, but of no particular value to humans. Some species of Chamaedaphne, Craibiodendron, Leucothoë, Lyonia, Pieris, and Rhododendron contain more or less toxic diterpenes, which are harmful to humans or domestic animals.[1]

Genus Rhododendron

Shrubs or trees , terrestrial or epiphytic, with various hairs , and/or with peltate scales or glabrous , indumentum sometimes detersile (the hairs tangled and coming away as a layer) . Leaves evergreen , deciduous or semideciduous, alternate, sometimes clustered at stem apex; margin entire, very rarely crenulate , abaxial indumentum sometimes with a pellicle (a thin skinlike layer on the surface) . Inflorescence a raceme or corymb, mostly terminal , sometimes lateral , few- to many-flowered, sometimes reduced to a single flower. Calyx persistent , 5-8-lobed, sometimes reduced to a rim , lobes minute and triangular to large and conspicuous . Corolla funnelform , campanulate , tubular , rotate or hypocrateriform , regular or slightly zygomorphic, 5(-8) -lobed, lobes imbricate in bud. Stamens 5-10(-27), inserted at base of corolla, usually declinate ; filaments linear to filiform , glabrous or pilose towards base; anthers without appendages , opening by terminal or oblique pores . Disk usually thick, 5-10(-14) -lobed. Ovary 5(-18) -locular, with hairs and/or scales, rarely glabrous. Style straight or declinate to deflexed , persistent; stigma capitate-discoid, crenate to lobed . Capsule cylindrical, coniform, or ovoid , sometimes curved , dehiscent from top, septicidal ; valves thick or thin, straight or twisted. Seeds very numerous , minute, fusiform , always winged , or both ends with appendages or thread-like tails.

About 1000 species: Asia, Europe, North America, two species in Australia; 571 species (409 endemic) in China.[2]

Physical Description

Habit: Evergreen .

Flowers: Dark purple flowers. • Bloom Period: March, April, May. • Flower Color: black, bronze, brown, dark purple, purple • Flower Conspicuous: Dense trusses of funnel-shaped flowers with brownish blotches

Foliage: Glossy, dark green • Foliage Shape: EllipticNormal foliage color: Green • Underside foliage: Green • Juvenile foliage: Green • Mature foliage: Green • New foliage: Green • Spring foliage: Green • Summer foliage: Green • Fall foliage: Green • Winter foliage: Green


Growth Rate: Moderate Growing • Size: 4-6' tall.


Landscape Uses: Shade garden. Woodland area. • Care: Follow a regular watering schedule during the first growing season to establish a deep, extensive root system . Provide well drained soil, rich in organic matter. Feed with an acid fertilizer after bloom . Keep roots cool with a thick layer of mulch.


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Culture: Space 4-6' apart.

Soil: Needs acidic, well-drained, organic soil. • Minimum pH: 5.1 • Maximum pH: 6.5

Sunlight: Sun Exposure: Light Shade.

Moisture: Water Requirements: Water regularly, when top 3 in. of soil is dry.

Temperature: Heat Zones: High: 9 (>120 to 150 days) Low:1 (< 1 days) (map) • Cold Hardiness: 5b. (map)


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A tentatively accepted name in the RHS Horticultural Database.

Similar Species

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Members of the genus Rhododendron

ZipcodeZoo has pages for 7917 species, subspecies, varieties, forms, and cultivars in this genus. Here are just 100 of them:

R. alabamense (Alabama Azalea) · R. albiflorum (Cascade Azalea) · R. albiflorum var. albiflorum (Cascade Azalea) · R. albiflorum var. warrenii (Cascade Azalea) · R. albrechtii (Albrechts Azalea) · R. amoena (Barred Blenny) · R. anagalliflorum (Vireya Rhododendron) · R. arborescens (Smooth Azalea) · R. arboreum (Tree Rhododendron) · R. atlanticum (Coast Azalea) · R. atlanticum 'Choptank' (Choptank Azalea) · R. augustinii (Blue Rhododendron) · R. augustinii 'Electra' (Blue Rhododendron) · R. aurigeranum (Vireya Rhododendron) · R. austrinum (Florida Flame Azalea) · R. bainbridgeanum (Bainbridges Rhododendron) · R. bakeri (Baker's Rhododendron) · R. barbatum (Barbatum Rhododendron) · R. basilicum (Rhododendron) · R. brookeanum (Vireya Rhododendron) · R. bureavii (Bureaus Rhododendron) · R. burmanicum (Rhododendron Burmanicum) · R. calendulaceum (Flame Azalea) · R. calophytum (Tree Rhododendron) · R. camtschaticum (Kamchatka Rhododendron) · R. camtschaticum glandulosum (Kamchatka Rhododendron) · R. canadense (Rhodora) · R. canescens (Hoary Azalea) · R. canescens var. canescens (Mountain Azalea) · R. canescens 'Cedar Lane' (Cedar Lane White-Flowered Piedmont Azalea) · R. canescens 'Varnadoe Phlox Pink' (Piedmont Azalea) · R. carolinianum (Carolina Azalea) · R. catawbiense (Catawba Rhododendron) · R. catawbiense 'Album' (Catawba Rhododendron) · R. catawbiense 'Boursault' (Boursault Catawba Rhododendron) · R. catawbiense 'Grandiflorum' (Catawba Rhododendron) · R. catawbiense 'Lee's Dark Purple' (Lee's Dark Purple Rhododendron) · R. catawbiense 'Madame Cochet' (Catawba Rhododendron) · R. caucasicum x Ponticum album 'Cunningham's White' (Cunningham's White Rhododendron) · R. chapmanii (Chapman Rhododendron) · R. columbianum (Western Labrador Tea) · R. cumberlandense (Baker's Rhododendron) · R. dauricum (Manchu Striped Mapledahurian Rhododendron) · R. dauricum 'Album' (Rhododendron) · R. dauricum 'Madison Snow' (Rhododendron) · R. dauricum 'Mid-winter' (Rhododendron 'mid-Winter') · R. decorum diaprepes (Rhododendron) · R. delavayi (Rhododendron Delavayi) · R. durionifolium (Vireya Rhododendron) · R. eastmanii (Native Azalea) · R. ferrugineum (Alpine Rose) · R. flammeum (Oconee Azalea) · R. forrestii (Rhododendron) · R. genesterianum (Everett's Barb) · R. glandulosum (Kamchatka Rhododendron) · R. griersopianum x haematodes 'Mayday' (Rhododendron) · R. groenlandicum (Greenland Labrador Tea) · R. Harry White's hybrid (Rhododendron Harry White's Hybrid) · R. hirsutum (Alpen Rose) · R. impeditum (Dwarf Purple Rhododendron) · R. indicum (Azalea) · R. indicum 'Flame Creeper' (Satsuki Azalea) · R. indicum 'George L. Tabor' (Satsuki Azalea) · R. indicum 'Kogetsu' (Satsuki Azalea) · R. indicum 'Red Bird' (Satsuki Azalea) · R. Inkarho Lilac Dufthecke = 'Rhodunter 149' (Rhododendron [inkarho Lilac Dufthecke]) · R. irroratum (Rhododendron) · R. japonica (Japanese Azalea) · R. japonicum (Japanese Azalea) · R. javanicum (Vireya Rhododendron) · R. johnstoneanum (Rhododendron) · R. kaempferi (Azalea) · R. kaempferi 'Mikawana' (Mikawana Azalea) · R. kaempferi 'Willy' (Willy Azalea) · R. kawakamii (Vireya Rhododendron) · R. keiskei 'Yaku Fairy' (Rhododendron) · R. keleticum (Rhododendron) · R. kesangiae (Rhododendron) · R. kiusianum (Japanese Azalea) · R. kiusianum 'Album' (Japanese Azalea) · R. kiusianum 'Harusame' (Harusame Azalea) · R. kiusianum 'Komo Kulshan' (Japanese Azalea) · R. kiusianum 'Murasaki-shikibu' (Murasaki Shikibu Azalea) · R. kiusianum 'Pink Clusters' (Japanese Azalea) · R. kiusianum 'Zakura' (Zakura Azalea) · R. konori (Konor Rhododendron) · R. kurume 'Coral Bells' (Coral Bells Azalea) · R. kurume 'Hershey Salmon' (Hershey's Salmon Azalea) · R. laetum (Vireya Rhododendron) · R. lapponicum (Lapland Rhododendron) · R. lapponicum var. lapponicum (Lapland Rosebay) · R. lapponicum var. parvifolium (Lapland Rosebay) · R. leucaspis (Rhododendron) · R. linearifolium Siebold and Zucc. var. macrosepalum (Maxim.) Makino (Spider Azalea) · R. linearifolium var. macrosepalum (Spider Azalea) · R. lochiae (Australian Rhododendron) · R. loranthiflorum (Vireya Rhododendron) · R. lowii (Vireya Rhododendron) · R. luteum (Pontic Azalea) · R. macgregoriae (Vireya Rhododendron)

More Info

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Further Reading

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  1. Mingyuan Fang, Ruizheng Fang, Mingyou He, Linzheng Hu, Hanbi Yang, Haining Qin, Tianlu Min, David F. Chamberlain, Peter Stevens, Gary D. Wallace & Arne Anderberg "Ericaceae". in Flora of China Vol. 14 Page 242. Published by Science Press (Beijing) and Missouri Botanical Garden Press. Online at [back]
  2. Fang Mingyuan, Fang Ruizheng, He Mingyou, Hu Linzhen, Yang Hanbi, David F. Chamberlain "Rhododendron". in Flora of China Vol. 14 Page 260. Published by Science Press (Beijing) and Missouri Botanical Garden Press. Online at [back]
Last Revised: 2/1/2015