Colin Mills, compiler of the Hortus Camdenensis, died in late November 2012 after a short illness. As he always considered the Hortus his legacy, it is his family's intention to keep the site running in perpetuity. It will not, however, be updated in the near future.

Rhododendron indicum ‘Variegata’

A cultivar of Rhododendron indicum Sweet. ‘This has white and red striped and spotted flowers and blooms irregularly the year round.  In the nursery district round Osaka it is known as “Shiki-takane-satsuki.”  In Blume’s time it was cultivated in Java, and according to Lindley it was introduced into England by Mr. M’Killigan in 1833, to Knight’s nursery in Chelsea, London.’  [Wilson & Rehder p.26].

Horticultural & Botanical History

‘This is the celebrated variegated Chinese Azalea, which so many attempts have been made in vain for these twenty years to procure alive.  It was brought home by Mr. M'Killigan in 1832, and is now in possession of Mr. Knight, of the King's,Road.  In habit and leaves it is exactly the same as the brickred kind figured at t.1700; but it is far handsomer in flower.  The blossoms which were produced in Mr. Knight's Nursery, not having been so perfect as could have been wished, we have completed our figure from a Chinese drawing in the possession of the Horticultural Society, which had been made under the inspection of Mr Reeves.’  [BR f.1716/1834].

In 1852 The Gardeners Chronicle commented: ‘The introduction of Azalea indica alba and phoenicea, together with the seedlings raised by the late Mr. Smith of Norbiton, tended still further to recommend the azalea to popular favour; and the appearance of A. variegata, lateritia, Gledstanesii and Danielsiona, completely established its merits’.  [Gard. Chron. 1852].  

History at Camden Park

Desiderata to Loddiges’ Nursery on 13th February, 1848 [MP A2933-1, p.172] and 1st February, 1849 [MP A2933-1, p.185].

Macarthur had mixed fortunes with plants received from Loddiges’ and elsewhere at this time and many were dead on arrival.  Some of these are listed in a subsequent letter but it is possible that others arrived alive and were planted in the gardens although never listed in the catalogues.


Several other azaleas were called variegata at this time, including forms of Rhododendron nudiflora, viscosa and punctulata.

Published Jun 18, 2009 - 02:05 PM | Last updated Sep 07, 2011 - 04:29 PM

Figured is a single azalea with white flowers streaked with crimson.  Botanical Register f.1716, 1834.

Rhododendron indicum Sweet var. variegata DC. | BR f.1716/1834 | BHL


Family Ericaceae
Region of origin

Japan, probably of garden origin

  • Azalea variegata Hort.
  • Rhododendron indicum Sweet var. variegata DC.
  • Shiki-takane-satsuki


Common Name

Indica azalea, Variegated azalea

Name in the Camden Park Record

Azalea variegata 


Confidence level high