deciduous Viscosa Azalea

"I passed by your garden, saw you with your flowers
The Magnolias, Camellias & Azaleas so sweet
And I stood there invisible in the panicking crowds."

-Nick Cave,


Rhododendron viscosum x molle 'Antilope' (frequently 'Antelope') is one of the Viscosum hybrids from Messers Felix & Dijkhuis of Boskoop, The Netherlands.

It seems to have been introduced throughout Europe as early as 1969, but has only in recent years begun to make its way into American gardens.

It was developed by crossing the North American white Swamp Azalea R. viscosum with the ultra-hardy, ultra-showy R. mollis 'Koster's Brilliant Red' (a misnomer since it's brilliant orange; a true red deciduous azalea is something hybridizers have yet to achieve).

AntilopeRegarding it's parents, R. viscosum is an extremely redolent species, hence sometimes called Swamp Honeysuckle. It's also known as the Clammy Azalea because the white blossoms have a damp sticky cool feel, not inherited by the hybrid. It was the first North American azalea to find its way across the Atlantic to England, making it to the garden of Bishop Henry Compton of London by 1680.

The pollinating parent R. mollis is not properly a species designation, as the names R. mollis & "Mollis hybrid" are nursery designations for certain bright orange & peach & yellow hybrids, alternatively designated R. kosteranum.These were developed in China by taking R. molle (synonymous with R. japonicum) & crossing it with other species. The first Mollis hybrids made it to gardens in the west in 1823.

The cross resulted in a hardy shrub with flowers flushed with salmon-pink to apricot, & a faint yellow dorsal spot. It is difficult to perceive enough fawn-yellow to justify the name Antilope, though there are African antilopes that are just about reddish-fawn to match this azalea.

It's one of several deciduous azaleas I installed in a friend's garden I was helping landscape, scattered between sundry evergreen ironclads that were already there. 'Anilope' is in full flower by mid-May, lasting into June, The blooms are wondrously perfumed. It is a small azalea with slow growth; it's ten year height is three to four feet, with upright & open habit. It's cold-hardy to Zone 5.


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