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Lapland Azalea (Rhododendron lapponicum)


Life history

Species overview

Lapland Azalea (Rhododendron lapponicum), a State Endangered plant, is found on shaded sandstone ledges along the Kickapoo and Wisconsin Rivers. Blooming occurs late April through late May; fruiting occurs throughout June. The optimal identification period for this species is late April through late May.

Synonyms: Azalea lapponica, Rhododendron lapponicum var. lapponicum

Identification

  • Distinguishing characteristics: Leaves are thick, leathery, evergreen, and 1 to 1.5 cm long, growing to 30 cm in height.
  • Flower characteristics: Flowers few, 1.5 cm wide, bright purple, bell-shaped, developing at the end of the branches.
  • Fruit characteristics: 5 mm wide.
  • Leaf characteristics: 1 to 1.5 cm long, leathery, evergreen, elliptic, and covered with many small scales, much longer than wide.

Phenology

  • Blooming phenology: late April through late May
  • Fruiting phenology: throughout June
  • Optimum time to identify: late April through late May

Other

  • Growth form: Shrub
  • Vegetative reproduction:
  • Life cycle: Perennial
  • Comments: Associated Species: Tsuga canadensis, Betula alleghaniensis, Pinus strobus, P. resinosa, Prenanthes alba, Polypodium vulgare, Arabis lyrata.

State status

Status and Natural Heritage Inventory documented occurrences in Wisconsin

The table below provides information about the protected status - state and federal - and the rank (S and G Ranks) for Lapland Azalea (Rhododendron lapponicum). See the Working List Key for more information about abbreviations. Counties shaded blue have documented occurrences for this species in the Wisconsin Natural Heritage Inventory database. The map is provided as a general reference of where this species has been found to date and is not meant as a range map.


Documented locations of Rhododendron lapponicum in the Natural Heritage Inventory Database as of March 2012.

Summary Information
State StatusEND
Federal Status in Wisconsinnone
State RankS1
Global RankG5
Tracked by NHIY

Habitats and landscapes

The Natural Heritage Inventory has developed scores indicating the degree to which each of Wisconsin's rare plant species is associated with a particular natural community or ecological landscape. This information is similar to that found in the Wildlife Action Plan for animals. As this is a work in progress, we welcome your suggestions and feedback.

General habitat information

  • Habitat description: Found on shaded sandstone ledges along the Kickapoo and Wisconsin Rivers.
  • Soils: Thin soils over sandstone.

Natural communities

This table lists the natural communities that are associated with Lapland Azalea. Scores for natural community associations are: "significant" association (score=3), "moderate association" (score=2) or the species can be present but is only weakly associated with the community (score=1).

Natural communities score
Moist Cliff 2
Hemlock Relict 2
Pine Relict 2
Dry Cliff 1

Ecological landscapes

This table lists the ecological landscape association scores for Lapland Azalea. The scores (3=High, 2=Moderate, 1=Low, 0=None) also correspond to the map.

Map of the Ecological Landscapes of Wisconsin.

Species guidance

The Endangered Resources Program has developed avoidance measures and management guidelines for plants on the Natural Heritage Working List. These are a work in progress, and we welcome your suggestions and feedback. Sources used in developing this information can be found here.

Lapland Azalea (Rhododendron lapponicum) has very few known occurrences in the state and is of the highest priority for conservation; we encourage you to consult with your District Ecologist or NHI Botanist for specific recommendations for your site.

Avoidance measures

These are specific actions designed to avoid "take" (mortality) of this species.

  • Avoid known individual plant locations and conduct operations elsewhere when they are least likely to cause damage. Ideally, this would involve frozen, snow-covered ground. However, in areas of the state where frozen conditions are unreliable, very dry soils late in the growing season might be the best available alternative. Consult with a biologist, if needed.
  • Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.
  • Avoid direct disturbance to sensitive microsites such as seeps, cliffs, and moss-covered boulders.

Management guidance

Management guidelines are additional considerations that may help maintain or enhance habitat for this species

  • No guidance has been developed for this species.

Photos


Lapland Azalea  [Photo #12471]

Lapland azalea (WI Endangered) is a disjunct species known from cold, shaded cliffs at only 2 locations in Wisconsin. Its core range is in the boreal regions.

Photo by Thomas Meyer, WDNR.

Lapland Azalea  [Photo #12472]

Photo by Thomas Meyer, WDNR.

Lapland Azalea  [Photo #12214]

Photo by Thomas Meyer, WDNR.

Lapland Azalea  [Photo #12526]

Lapland azalea (WI Endangered) is a disjunct species known from cold, shaded cliffs at only 2 locations in Wisconsin. Its core range is in the boreal regions.

Photo © Robert H. Read.

Lapland Azalea  [Photo #1380]

Rhododendron lapponicum. Photo from Endangered Resources files.

Photo by  staff, WDNR.

Lapland Azalea  [Photo #1381]

Photo © J.H. Zimmerman.


Support for Wisconsin's rare plant information has been provided by the Division of Forestry, the Endangered Resources Fund and the Wisconsin Rare Plant Preservation Fund. To donate, visit the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin [exit DNR].

Last revised: Monday, July 21, 2014
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