Native Plants and Wildflowers

For over two decades, Don Hyatt has been studying our beautiful native azaleas. We are blessed with a very rich flora that grows wild the Eastern United States. There has been the discovery of two new native azalea species since 1995, R. eastmanii and R. colemanii, the count is now 17 species in North America, and still counting. There is only one species native to the western coast of Oregon and California, but most of the others are found in the Southeastern U.S. Some are very rare, and others are difficult to tell apart, but all of them are beautiful. They are truly some of the most lovely and alluring of our native wilflowers, and the regions where they grow are often breathtaking, too. Pictured below is the view of the Flame Azaleas, R. calendulaceum, along the Appalactian Trail near Roan Mountain on the border of North Carolina and Tennessee.

Some of these pages were developed in association with various talks he has given to garden clubs or plant societies. For a number of years, nany of these files resided on the server at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology where he taught for many years. They have been recently moved to his own domain, so some links may be inactive but should be updated soon.

Native Azalea and Rhododendron Articles for the RSF

Two of the following articles were co-authored with George McLellan for the Yearbook of the Rhododendron Species Foundation Botanical Garden. The others were written by Don for the same publication.

More on Native Azaleas and Plants in the Wild

  • A Chapter Field Trip to Roan Mountain and Gregory Bald  
    This was an article written for the Journal of the American Rhododendron Society. It discusses some of the places we visit on our annual treks to the mountains of North Carolina and Tennessee to see native azaleas and rhododendrons in the wild.
  • Chasing the Bloom in the Southern Appalachians  
    This was article is essentially a summary of the keynote address Don gave at the 2012 Joint ARS/ASA Convention in Asheville. It discusses when and where the members of his chapter hike each year to see peak bloom for the native azaleas, rhododendrons, and wildflowers as well as the scenic places where they often grow in the Southern Appalachians.
  • In Search of Smokianum   (Update!)
    This article discusses a small, purple flowered rhododendron that grows in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Although considered to be a form of Rhododendron minus, many of us feel that it deserves closer study since the plant has a dwarf habit, it blooms so much later than other forms of the species, and the color range is different.
  • Special Plants and Special Places  
    This was an article written for the Fall 2004 Newsletter of the Potomac Valley Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society. Don presented the program at the Rhododendron Society's regular meeting on January 16, 2005 at the U.S. National Arboretum, and again at the Lahr Native Plant Symposium at the National Arboretum on March 19, 2005.
  • The Best of the Best: In Search of Native Azaleas   (Garden Talk)
    Web version of Don Hyatt's keynote address given at the Azalea Society of America Convention in Asheville, NC, June 16, 2001.
  • Identifying Native Azaleas   (Garden Talk)
    Tips on the identification of the 15 species of azaleas native to the Eastern United States
  • Native Azaleas: Plants in the Wild and Flower Forms
    Graphics showing the native azaleas growing in the wild
  • Rhododendron Prunifolium: A Late Flowering Form
    Pictures of a native azalea blooming in November
  • Rare Forms of Native Azaleas, Spring 2003  
    Pictures of some rare native azalea clones including double forms and unusual colors seen in the wild in 2003.

Gregory Bald in the Smokies

Gregory Bald Azalea

Roan Mountain and the Southern Appalachian Highlands

Rhododendrons on Roan