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 pulchrum Sweet

A small to medium bush with rose-purple flowers with dark spots, 5-6cm across, borne in clusters of 1 to 4, introduced into England in 1824 and not known in the wild.  [Hortus, Hilliers']. 


Horticultural & Botanical History

Paxton's Magazine of Botany describes the flowers of A. indica phoenicea as brick red, which may be a reference to Rhododendron phoeniceum G.Don[MB p.158/1840].  ‘A native of China, introduced in 1825 by the Horticultural Society, from whom we received it.  It produces its magnificent flowers in May and June, and when planted in a conservatory, and grown to four or five feet high, is exceedingly ornamental.  It may be increased by cuttings freely, and appears to like a shady situation, with great abundance of water.’  [LBC no.1735/1833]. 


History at Camden Park

Listed in all published catalogues [T.76/1843].  Azalea indica phoenicea is listed in both the 1830 and 1836 editions of Loddiges’ Nursery catalogue, copies of which are held at Camden Park [CPA].


Probably also synonymous with Azalea indica phoenicea Sweet.

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]. 

The identity of Macarthur’s Azalea Indica phoenicea is uncertain.  See also Rhododendron phoeniceum G.Don.



Published Jan 16, 2009 - 01:26 PM | Last updated Sep 30, 2011 - 05:00 PM

The image shows an azalea with single, rosy-purple flowers.  Loddiges Botanical Cabinet no.1735, 1833.

Rhododendron pulchrum Sweet | LBC no.1735/1833 | RBGS


Family Ericaceae
Region of origin

Garden origin, China

  • Azalea phoenicea Hort. ex Planch
  • Azalea phoenicium smithii Hort. 


Common Name
Name in the Camden Park Record

Azalea Indica phoenicea 


Confidence level medium