LRP - Licenses

LRP - Regulations

LRP - Permits

Recreation - Statewide

Recreation - Trapping

Recreation - Fishing

Recreation - Hunting

Env. Protection - Management

Env. Protection - Emergency

Env. Protection - Resources

To sign up for updates or to access your subscriber preferences, please enter your contact information below.

Share your observations

Share your observations of plants or non-game animals with the Natural Heritage Inventory.

Rare animals
Find rare and non-game animals.
Rare plants
Learn about plants on the Natural Heritage Working List.
Rare lichens
Discover Wisconsin's lichens.
Natural communities
Explore Wisconsin's natural communities.
Other features
Discover unique resources.
Eagle license plate

Help care for rare plants and animals by ordering an Endangered Resources plate.

Contact information
For information on Wisconsin's rare plants, contact:
Kevin Doyle

Lapland Azalea (Rhododendron lapponicum)

Life history

Species overview

Lapland Azalea (Rhododendron lapponicum), a Wisconsin 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


  • 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.


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


  • 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 July 2015.

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
Pine Relict 2
Hemlock Relict 2
Dry Cliff 1
Moist Cliff 2

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 direct disturbance to sensitive microsites such as seeps, cliffs, and moss-covered boulders.
  • Avoid broadcast spraying of herbicides; use care with spot spraying.

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.


Lapland Azalea  Photo.

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, Wisconsin DNR.

Lapland Azalea  Photo.

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.

Rhododendron lapponicum. Photo from Endangered Resources files.

Photo by  staff, Wisconsin DNR.

Lapland Azalea  Photo.

Photo by Thomas Meyer, Wisconsin DNR.

Lapland Azalea  Photo.

Photo by Thomas Meyer, Wisconsin DNR.

Lapland Azalea  Photo.

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: Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Southwest Savanna Southern Lake Michigan Coastal Western Coulees and Ridges Southeast Glacial Plains Central Sand Hills Central Lake Michigan Coastal Central Sand Plains Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northern Lake Michigan Coastal Northeast Sands Western Prairie North Central Forest Northern Highlands Northwest Lowlands Northwest Sands Northwest Lowlands Superior Coastal Plains Forest Transition