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In Bloom

Vireya Rhododendrons
 
Rhododendron at San Francisco Botanical Garden

Rhododendron 'Chlorinda'. Photo by Marc Johnson.

Rhododendron 'Chlorinda' at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Marc Johnson Rhododendron 'Doris Mossman' at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Mona Bourell Rhododendron 'Elizabeth Ann Seton' at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Mona Bourell Rhododendron (gracilentum x lochiae x laetum) hybrid at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Mona Bourell Rhododendron (hellwigii x konori) hybrid at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Marc Johnson Rhododendron kawakami var. flaviflorum at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Marc Johnson Rhododendron (konori x laetum x zoelleri) hybrid at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Marc Johnson Rhododendron laetum at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Mona Bourell Rhododendron (laetum x leucogigas)  hybrid at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Marc Johnson Rhododendron quadrasianum at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Mona Bourell Rhododendron rarum at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Mona Bourell Rhododendron 'Ravalac' at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Marc Johnson Rhododendron 'Red Rocks' at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Mona Bourell Rhododendron 'Souvenir De J.H. Mangles' at San Francisco Botanical Garden by Mona Bourell

Click for larger photosVIEW ALL 15 VARIETIES

 

The home of Vireya Rhododendrons lies in the steamy, moist cloud forests of Malaysia and Indochina, and on the islands of Indonesia, New Guinea and the Philippines. With their brilliant trusses of flowers, some tubular, some flaring, in yellows, orange, shades of reds, even bi-colors, they hang as epiphytes from trees, in clefts of rocks, in sunny openings in the jungles, even at elevations of 10,000 feet! They produce quantities of seeds, and through the help of wind or birds find a variety of homes in these humid tropics as long as there is moisture, a frost-free climate, acid soil, and good drainage. Adjacent to the Succulent Garden, the Southeast Asian Cloud Forest is a new section of the San Francisco Botanical Garden now providing habitat for this group of rhododendrons.

Vireya is a subgenus of the genus Rhododendron, distinguished primarily by their seeds which have tails at both ends. Their flamboyant colored and shaped flowers also tend toward multiple bloomings throughout the year. Approximately 900 species of Rhododendron exist in the world and one third of them are Vireyas!

In the 19th century, the great nursery Veitch & Sons in Exeter, England sent their own explorers to China and the Himalayas – even to southern Appalachia and California – to bring back varieties of rhododendron for hybridizing in English greenhouses. The Depression and two World Wars took their toll, and interest waned until 1958-1960 when Dutch botanist Professor Hermann Sleumer travelled to New Guinea and discovered 122 new species. He wrote the first classification of Vireyas still used today. The San Francisco Botranical Garden was one of four botanical gardens along with Kew Gardens chosen to receive his cuttings. In 2002, SFBG Collections manager Bian Tan brought back seeds and cuttings from Indonesia. Some did not survive several rare severe California frosts, however, planting cuttings from other growers have been successful and made up for the losses. Many beautiful hybrid crosses and cultivars have arisen in the Vireya trade.

Morning sun is best, so Vireyas in the Southeast Asian Cloud Forest are planted in the dappled shade of Magnolias, Fishtail Palms, Cinnnamomum (Camphor trees), and under Podocarpus and red leafed Elaeocarpus from Taiwan. Growing with them are clumps of Vaccinium sp. (blueberries from Burma), Dichroa sp. (Hydrangeas from Indochina), and Gaultheria sp., a plant we know well that grows in our own dank coastal forests. San Francisco fog supplies most of the moisture, and the Bay provides the mild temperatures they need. We have 15 varieties of Vireya that go in and out of bloom in spring, among them, creamy white R. 'Elizabeth Ann Seton' and rosy R. hellwigii.

Profile
Scientific Name Rhododendron spp., In Section Vireya of Subgenus Rhododendron
Family Ericaceae
Plant Type Shrubby epiphytes or terrestrial shrubs
Environment Prefers cool shade, regular watering, good drainage, acidic soil and a frost-free climate
Bloom Spring, but many bloom sporadically through the seasons
Uses Accent plants in shady gardens.
More Info Rhododendrons of Subgenus Vireya Hardcover – May, 2006 by George Dr. Argent, available at Helen Crocker Russell Library of Horticulture

Some Vireya Rhododendrons of the SACF include: Rhododendron 'Elizabeth Ann Seton', R. 'Chlorinda', R. 'Doris Mossman', R. gracilentum x lochiae x laetum, R. hellwigii x konori, R. x (konori x laetum) x zoelleri, R. laetum, R. x (laetum x lowii)

R. quadrasianum, R. rarum, R. 'Ravalac', R. 'Red Rocks', R. 'Souvenir De J.H. Mangles', R. 'Taylori'

IN BLOOM CONTRIBUTORS:
Text by Kathy McNeil. Profile by Mona Bourell. Photos by Joanne Taylor, Mona Bourell and Marc Johnson.

Plant Sales at San Francisco Botanical Garden
Location

Vireya Rhododendrons is located in the Southeast Asian Cloud Forest (Beds 77-78).

Visiting Info >>
Map (Bed Numbers) >>

 
 
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Magnolia campbellii

Magnolia campbellii

January

Magnolia doltsopa

Magnolia doltsopa

February

Magnolia liliiflora

Magnolia liliiflora

March

Vireya Rhododendrons

Vireya Rhododendrons

April

   
Magnolia dawsoniana

Magnolia dawsoniana

January

Magnolia campbellii 'Strybing White'

Magnolia campbellii 'Strybing White'

February

Magnolia laevifolia'Strybing Compact'

Magnolia laevifolia 'Strybing Compact'

March

Aristolochia californica

Aristolochia californica

April

Chlorogalum pomeridianum

Chlorogalum pomeridianum

May

Arbutus menziesii

Arbutus menziesii

June

Romneya coulteri

Romneya coulteri

July

Cistus sp.

Cistus sp.

August

Rosmarinus sp.

Rosmarinus sp.

September

Dahlia spp.

Dahlia spp.

October

Salvia cacaliifolia

Salvia cacaliifolia

November

Salvia cacaliifolia

Salvia microphylla
'Hot Lips'

November

Magnolia campbellii

Magnolia campbellii

January

Magnolia denudata

Magnolia denudata

February

Magnolia x veitchii

Magnolia x veitchii

March

Iris douglasiana

Iris douglasiana

April

Aesculus californica

Aesculus californica

May

Vaccinium ovatum

Vaccinium ovatum

June

Sambucus racemosa

Sambucus racemosa

July

Sequoia sempervirens

Sequoia sempervirens

August

Asarum caudatum

Asarum caudatum

September

Deppea splendens

Deppea splendens

October

Montanoa spp.

Montanoa spp.

November

Bidens sp.

Bidens sp.

December

Acer palmatum 'Sango kaku'

Acer palmatum 'Sango kaku'

January

Magnolia campbellii 'Darjeeling'

Magnolia campbellii 'Darjeeling'

February

Bomaria spp.

Bomarea spp.

March

Rhododendron occidentale

Rhododendron occidentale

April

Polystichum munitum

Polystichum munitum

May

x Chiranthofremontia lenzii

x Chiranthofremontia lenzii

June

Salvia leucantha

Salvia leucantha

July

Hydrangea seemannii

Hydrangea seemannii

August

Wollemia nobilis

Wollemia nobilis

September

Cyathea cooperi

Cyathea cooperi

October

Pinus radiata

Pinus radiata

November

Correa spp.

Correa spp.

December

Garrya elliptica

Garrya elliptica

January

Magnolia x soulangeana

Magnolia x soulangeana

February

Senecio glastifolius

Senecio glastifolius

March

Ribes spp.

Ribes spp.

April

Oxalis oregana

Oxalis oregana

May

Calandrinia grandiflora

Calandrinia grandiflora

June

Taxus baccata

Taxus baccata

July

Romneya coulteri

Romneya coulteri

August

Passiflora parritae

Passiflora parritae

September

Malvaviscus arboreus

Malvaviscus arboreus

October

Monterey Cypress

Monterey Cypress

November

Aloe arborescens

Aloe arborescens

December

Aloe plicatilis

Aloe plicatilis

January

Banksia seminuda

Banksia seminuda

February

Zantedeschia elliottiana

Zantedeschia aethiopica

March

Magnolia laevifolia

Magnolia laevifolia

April

Araucaria heterophylla

Araucaria heterophylla

May

Toxicodendron diversilobum

Toxicodendron diversilobum

June

Clarkia sp.

Clarkia sp.

July

Agapanthus

Agapanthus

August

Brugmansia

Brugmansia

September

Cedrus spp.

Cedrus spp.

October

Protea repens

Protea repens

November

Camellia sinensis

Camellia sinensis

December

Thujopsis dolabrata

Thujopsis dolabrata

January

Gordonia longicarpa

Gordonia longicarpa

February

Rojasianthe superba

Rojasianthe superba

March

Echium spp.

Echium spp.

April

Iris douglasiana

Iris douglasiana

May

Digitalis purpurea

Digitalis purpurea

June

Felicia amelloides

Felicia amelloides

July

Ceroxylon quindiuense

Ceroxylon quindiuense

August

Amaryllis belladonna

Amaryllis belladonna

September

Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo biloba

October

Acer morrisonense

Acer morrisonense

November

Ilex aquifolium

Ilex aquifolium

December

Picea sitchensis

Picea sitchensis

January

Telanthophora grandifolia

Telanthophora grandifolia

February

Aeonium arboreum 'Schwartzkopf'

Aeonium arboreum 'Schwartzkopf'

March

Leptospermum Spp.

Leptospermum

April

Salvia gesneraeflora

Salvia gesneraeflora

May

Lavandula spp.

Lavandula spp.

June

Pelargonium

Pelargonium

July

Fuchsia paniculata

Fuchsia paniculata

August

Luma apiculata

Luma apiculata

September

Luculia

Luculia

October

Arbutus unedo

Arbutus unedo

November

Cycads

Cycad

December

Restionaceae

Restionaceae

January

Hellebores

Hellebores

February

Ceanothus

Ceanothus

March

Rhododendron

Rhododendron

April

Psoralea pinnata

Psoralea pinnata

May

Fremontodendron californicum

Fremontodendron californicum

June

Leucadendron argenteum

Leucadendron argenteum

July

Crocosmia

Crocosmia

August

Gunnera tinctoria

Gunnera tinctoria

September

Pellaea rotundifolia

Pellaea rotundifolia

October

Fuchsia boliviana

Fuchsia boliviana

November

Erica canaliculata

Erica canaliculata

December

Magnolia campbelli

Magnolia campbelli

January

Magnolia denudata

Magnolia denudata

February

Camellia

Camellia

March

Geranium maderense

Geranium maderense

April

Acmena smithii

Acmena smithii

May

Eschscholzia californica

Eschscholzia californica

June

Dendromecon harfordii

Dendromecon harfordii

July

Romneya coulteri

Romneya coulteri

August

Eupatorium purpureum

Eupatorium purpureum

September

Epilobium canum sp.

Epilobium canum sp.

October

Grevillea spp.

Grevillea spp.

November

Drimys winteri

Drimys winteri

December

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