Flame Azalea – Rhododendron austrinum

Flame Azalea
Flame Azalea

This native of Florida’s panhandle and southern Georgia is highly poisonous, and may prove fatal if ingested. It is toxic due to Andromedotoxix being present in all parts of the shrub. Symptoms include salivation, watering of eyes and nose, abdominal pain, loss of energy, depression, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, difficult breathing, progressive paralysis of arms and legs, coma. Although this Azalea has no specific mention of toxicity for dogs, Azaleas in general are the most common toxic plant that dogs ingest!

This azalea produces a fragrance that attracts butterflies, hummingbirds, and humans. The scent is reminiscent of honeysuckle! It can be smelled in early spring when the flowers and leaves appear. The wonderful shrub is listed as Endangered in Florida, but I found it planted at Longwood Gardens in Pennsylvania!

Flowers provide nectar to a wide variety of animals including Hummingbirds, Swallowtails, Gulf Fritillaries, Monarchs, Hairstreaks, Skippers, and bees. It is often used as a nesting site by songbirds. Hummingbirds have been known to be territorial about these shrubs, defending them from other birds!

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