All About the Azalea Flower

The next flower on the list for the 100 Flowers Project is the lovely and unique azalea.

Botany

Azaleas are flowering shrubs in the genus Rhododendron, of the family Ericaceae. They bloom in the spring and are native to Asia, Europe, and North America. North American azaleas are different than azaleas of Asian origin, although they are often confused with one another. Asian azaleas, or evergreen azaleas, comprise 80-117 species distributed in Japan, China, and northeastern Asia. There are about 15 species of North American azaleas, which all have five stamens. From both types of azaleas, over 10,000 different cultivars have been bred over hundreds of years. 



Culture

Azalea indica was first introduced to the outdoor landscape in the 1830’s in Charleston, South Carolina at the rice plantation Magnolia-on-the-Ashley. In 1871, this rice plantation opened its doors to the public, following the American Civil War. It is one of the oldest public gardens in America, and since the late 19th century, thousands visit to see the azaleas bloom in late March and early April. 

Many cities in the United States have festivals in the spring celebrating the blooms of the azalea. Japan, Korea, and Hong Kong also have flower festivals celebrating the azalea. Ironically, because of their toxicity, azaleas received in a bouquet were once regarded as well-known death threat. 



Papercut

I believe the azalea I choose to draw for my papercut is an Asian variety, as the North American varieties tend to have longer stamens. I liked the Asian varieties that had wavy petals. I loved how the azaleas bunch together as well. They are truly a beautiful flower, and one can see why they are so popular for ornamental gardens.

I choose a pink square background to create contrast against the roundness of the flower bunch. I love how this looks. I was very happy with the result, and I hope you are too!

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