Sentinel Progress

Azalea talk at SWU

CENTRAL — The Feb. 20 meeting of the Upstate Native Plant Society will feature Dr. Charles Horn bringing new information about the May White azalea and other native azaleas of the southeast.

The meeting will be held at 7 p.m. at Southern Wesleyan University in Founders Hall at 215 Clayton Street. The meeting is free and open to the public.

The May White azalea, rhododendron eastmanii, was first identified as a separate species in 1999 and Dr. Horn has researched the new species over the past 19 years.

He will offer new information on the distribution of the May White in South Carolina.

Dr. Horn’s on-going research and field work have expanded to include DNA lab studies with the help of Marshall University. There are still a lot of old erroneous old records of the May White being identified under a different name, before the plant was recognized as a separate species. Dr. Horn hopes to help correct those identifications at university azalea collections in the southeast.

Dr. Horn says in spite of all the research to date, challenges are still out there.

“One of the most challenging parts of identifying azaleas in the field occurs in the middle of winter when they’re not in flower. Do we know what species it is? Observing the ecological information,” he said. “Where is the plant growing in the environment… in saturated water… on a stream bank… a slope? …becomes part of the story, too.”

The Native Plant Society meets monthly on the fourth Tuesday of each month rotating among three locations in the Upstate. The public is always welcome.

For more information, go to

Staff report