Frequent BPotD commenter and occasional contributor Earl Blackstock of the eastern USA sent along today’s photograph (taken April 12, 2011) via email.
Earl writes: Mr. Ernest Koone, owner of Lazy K Nursery in Pine Mountain, Georgia developed and registered this selection [originally found in south Georgia]. This plant and all my native azaleas I purchase from Ernest. This flower opens as a bright orange and after a few days turns an intense deep red as seen in this picture. I e-mailed Mr. Koone this photo and Ernest e-mailed me back the following: ‘I think that is a GREAT flower and your picture is magnificent, showing the full range of color development'”.
Rhododendron flammeum is native to Alabama, Georgia and South Carolina. It is commonly known as Oconee azalea. Flower colour is notably variable in this species, ranging from yellow to red (and includes oranges and pinks). The Callaway Gardens weblog entry on Oconee azalea makes note of this, advising: “Because there are several kinds [species and / or colour variants] blooming at the same time there is often cross pollination and the resulting seeds and plants display a wide color range. That is why is it important to purchase native azaleas in bloom if you want a specific color.”