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Kurume azaleas were originally found in the mountains of Japan as early as 300 years ago. As many as 700 different Kurume hybrids have been made since then, of which around 200 are known today. Some of them were imported into the United States beginning in 1915, again in 1917-1918, and again in 1929. More recently a group of 50 more varieties of Kurume hybrids were brought in by the U.S. National Arboretum and released to the public in 1983.
Shown here by permission of their author, Dr. Satoshi Yamaguchi, this diagram and most of the Kurume images in the alphabetic galleries are from his Virtual Azalea website.
Many of the other Kurume images were taken by Dan Krabill in his garden and at the US National Arboretum, with very careful attention to color and nomenclature.
Several mountains, including Mt. Kirishima near the city of Kurume on the island of Kyushu, Japan have stands of R. kiusianum, R. kaempferi, R. sataense and the original Kurume hybrids. Some authorities think the Kurumes are hybrids of the first two species, others think they are hybrids of the latter two species, and still others think other species may be involved.
As shown by this diagram, Dr. Yamaguchi is in the first camp. His diagram also shows that still more species and hybrids have also been used to produce many of the Kurume hybrids now in the nursery trade.
Kurume azaleas tend to grow as upright medium height shrubs, with numerous small flowers in a full range of colors, blooming early to early midseason.