San Rafael Valley, AZ ~~ Photo by Bill Haas

Sunday, June 17, 2012


You haven’t lived until you’ve drowned in the sweet, fragrant ambrosia of Wild Azaleas.  One might compare the flowers to Iris, their perfume to Honeysuckle.  They are actually  related to Rhododendrons, and typically bloom in June, rimming meadows in wet spots and along creeks.  Turn away from them at your peril!  

I found a smattering of Wild Azalea shrubs along Tuolumne River’s South Fork just starting to bloom.  Yosemite Valley is where you’ll find entire meadows-full of Wild Azalea, their heady fragrance impossible to miss.  Big Basin State Park is the only other place I’ve found similar profusion of this unique plant.  

Of their five fringed ivory petals, only the middle of the top three petals is tinted with a pale, buttery apricot hue.  The remaining four are tinged with barely a blush of pink bisecting each petal.  Their come-hither pistils and stamens invite nectar scoopers, pollinators, human noses. The buds of Wild Azaleas are just as pleasing, and the colors a tiny bit more intense.  

I love this plant.  Discovering it made my day ... 
all I did was follow my nose!