Plant of the Week: Flame Azalea

Rhododendron calendulaceum

This week's Plant of the Week was the Flame Azalea. Most people answered it pretty close. This is actually a native plant to the Smokey Mountains. It grows from four to eight feet tall and spreads out somewhere between ten to fifteen feet. My wife and I found this particular plant in 2003 along the Abram's Falls trail. We took the pictures on the way up the trail but sadly when we came back down the trail they were gone. The fiery orange petals could be seen strewn up and down the trail. Several children destroyed them while their parents watched. The National Parks are there for people to learn and observe nature in its beauty. Kids will be kids but it's up to the parents to impress upon their children the importance of preservation. It was a missed opportunity for the parents of these children to discuss the purpose of the National Parks. There are many other flame azaleas in other areas of the park but these were the only ones we saw on that trail. It's just too bad that those people who followed the children up the trail didn't get to see the flame azaleas that day.

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