Goyo-tsutsuji or Five-leaf
Deciduous Azalea; aka,
Cork-bark White Azalea
"Azaleas blossom along the stream,
Like that village maiden
who climbed the hillside last year,
Singing a sweet high song
about her sweetheart.
She picked an azalea & with it,
adorned her hair."
In a ceremony on 7 December 2001, the Japanese Crown Prince Haruhito & Crown Princess Masaka established the Goyo or Five-leaf Azalea Rhododendron quinquefolium as the symbol of their newborn child Princess Aiko, who had been born on the first day of the month. The whiteness of the flowers represents the pure heart of the princess.
This very slow-growing deciduous azalea will usually reach three to four feet high & wide in a temperate, sea-level garden, in ten years.
But it is not actually a dwarf. In its native islands of Honshu & Shikoku, where it grows at high elevations, it can reach fifteen to twenty-five feet, among the larger rhododendrons.
A 1993 recipient of the Award of Garden Merit, Five-leaf Cork Azalea has stunning foliage hardly recognizable as a rhododendron.
Thel eaves look like a five pointed star, emerging olive-green in April & quickly developing an outline of pink to reddish purple. These leaves have almost the impact of blossoms. The autumn colors of these leaves can be quite a stunning in ruby-red.
Five-leaf azaleas age with corky fissured bark, hence its other common name Cork Azalea.
Two-inch pendulous white flowers look like pointed fairy-hats in late April & May, hanging singly or by twos & threes. If you lift them up to look inside, the stamins are green, & on some specimens the flowers have green interior freckling. They usually open after spring's new leaves have gotten started, so are partially hidden by the foliage.
It wants moist well draining humusy soil, in bright shade, & is cold-hardy to minus twenty to minus five degrees Fahrenheit. It is highly resistant to root-rot.
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