Gorgeous Double Orange/Apricot Variegated Rhododendron, Azalea or Camellia? Tree Mystery

Asked May 6, 2013, 7:55 PM EDT

What is the name of this gorgeous deciduous "tree"? It's leaves and bud characteristics are rhododendron and the double flowers (like an azalea or camellia) are drop dead gorgeous? I cannot find it anywhere online. It is about 12 feet tall now.

Riverside County California

3 Responses

The plant looks somewhat familiar; I believe it is a pomegranate. I found a photo of an ornamental pomegranate that looks very much like your picture – the 'Ki Zakuro’ cultivar was photographed at the National Clonal Germplasm Repository, Davis CA, by Jeff Moersfelder and the article was published in the 2011 Proceedings of the Florida State Horticultural Society. Let me know if you would like a copy of this article. Although UF has some information on this fruit available at: http://www.crec.ifas.ufl.edu/extension/pomegranates/ , I did find a more appropriate California webpage “pomegranate program” on the Fresno County Extension website: http://ucanr.edu/sites/Pomegranates/ I would recommend that you share your photos or a cutting of this plant with the University of California Extension Master Gardeners or the Extension faculty in Riverside California to confirm its identity, and they may be able to provide you with information on the proper cultivation of this plant in your area. Here is their county website: http://ceriverside.ucanr.edu/ Good luck!

Nope - NOT a pomegranate. With all due respect, we have a pomegranate tree and this is NOT a pomegranate. In fact, it is not a fruiting tree at all. It obviously belongs to the camellia/rhododendren family.
Is it possible you could forward this to a flower expert for California? We live in a micro-climate area similar to Italy where everything grows, if that helps.
Thank you

Dear Anonymous. I forwarded you question and my response to the Riverside County California Extension office: http://ceriverside.ucanr.edu/ Unfortunately their Master Gardener email does not work, so let’s hope that one of the other agents will respond to my directed email.
The American Camellia Society has an extensive yearbook of Camellia cultivars – if you are convinced that is what it is, go to this website and start looking at the thumbnail photos to see if you can find in: http://www.americancamellias.org/display.aspx?catid=3,136,137,144 Based on my old Yankee gardening experience, the leaves in your picture are just not big and broad enough to be a rhododendron. It could be a camellia, although camellias, azaleas, rhododendrons and the rest of the plants in the “tea family” (Theaceae) are evergreen shrubs.