Vaseyi Chapter

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The Vaseyi Chapter received its charter as a chapter at the 2001 Azalea Society Convention on June 14-17 in Asheville, North Carolina, and was the host of that convention. We chose our name in honor of Rhododendron vaseyi, native only to a few counties in western North Carolina. R. vaseyi was discovered and documented in 1878 near Webster, North Carolina by George R. Vasey, son of the first director of the US National Herbarium George S. Vasey (…more George S. Vasey info).

George S. Vasey (1822-1893), English born American botanist, grass specialist, botanist of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, curator of the U.S. national herbarium, associate of John Torrey, Asa Gray and other well-known botanists, had a son named George R Vasey. Little is known about the son, except he collected plants in the wild to sell and soon moved to the west coast. It was George R. Vasey and not his well-known father who discovered this azalea. However, the father recognized the uniqueness of this plant and sent a specimen to Asa Gray, who declared it a new rhododendron species and named it Rhododendron vaseyi to commemorate the name of son and father.

The above information is found in none other than Asa Gray’s reporting of the new species on page 49 of the Proceeding of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 1880. More is found in Joseph Ewan’s “History of Exploring for Rhododendrons in the Southeastern United States” in JARS 33:4.

We draw our members from western North Carolina, northern South Carolina and eastern Tennessee. We meet at least 5 or 6 times a year, with programs on various aspects of native deciduous azaleas and evergreen azaleas, and we visit various gardens during late spring and early summer. You will find a hearty welcome from your fellow azalea lovers in the Vaseyi Chapter – door prizes every meeting, a free azalea for each new member!

Chapter Project

We are researching the location and distribution of our namesake azalea R. vaseyi in the wild, and in historical and current documentation. One of these springs we hope to locate the type specimen of R. vaseyi, which the original herbarium sheet mentions as being found at the "Summit of a balsam mountain 7 miles south west from Webster Jackson Cty North Carolina". So far, we have located two likely peaks in the area. To participate in this project, please contact John Brown.


President J Jackson
Vice President Leon Pace
Secretary Suzanne Medd
Treasurer Doley Bell
Past President   Audrey Stelloh

 past event highlights  

October 13, 2013 – 2:00 pm – Don Hyatt presented a program on America’s Treasure: Our Native Azaleas, based on his extensive travels along the

Blue Ridge Parkway and elsewhere.

September 22, 2013 – 2:00 pm – Dr. Joe Coleman gave a program on Hurricane Creek Azaleas, taking us on a tour of the native azaleas along Hurricane Creek in Lumpkin County, GA , near the

Appalachian Mountains. These azaleas are an interesting and varied group of diploid, triploid and tetraploid natural hybrids in a relatively small area!

March 24, 2013 – 2:00 pm – Mossin’ Annie from Brevard NC gave us an informative and fun program on mosses, named Go Green With Moss

May 8, 2010 – 10:00 am – 4:00 pm, ECO/ASA Azalea Garden Tour of four Hendersonville gardens: Doley Bell, Ed Collins, Dr. Stewart, Bob Stelloh – had 33 attendees, got 7 new ASA members

March 28, 2010 – John Turner, Executive Director of the Southern Highlands Reserve, gave us an excellent overview of the Reserve, 120 acres atop Toxaway Mountain, devoted to the preservation of native Blue

Ridge Mountain plants

June 16, 2007 – Joe/Donna Coleman garden, Lithonia GA, joint with Azalea Chapter ARS, where we met and took cuttings from Joe’s very extensive collection of evergreen and deciduous azaleas.

February 8, 2004 – Dr. Clarence Towe gave an excellent program on native azaleas, with a focus on breeding unusual native azaleas. Clarence has extensive experience with native azaleas and is writing a book

on them to be published by Timber Press in August 2004. He devised the "It’s as simple as 1, 2, 3, 4, 5" mnemonic to help remember our species azaleas:

  – 1 – West coast azalea – occidentale

  – 2 – Odd pinks – canadense, vaseyi

  – 3 – Fragrant pinks – canescens, periclymenoides, prinophyllum

  – 4 – Fragrant whites – alabamense, arborescens, atlanticum, viscosum

  – 5 – Orange reds – austrinum, calendulaceum, cumberlandense, flammeum, prunifolium

November 16, 2003 We held our annual election of officers, and had a big seed exchange – lots of deciduous and evergreen azalea seed, including wild-collected native azalea seed, and open-pollinated and

hand-pollinated seed from member gardens and elsewhere – with a brief "how-to" discussion on raising azaleas from seed.

November 9, 2003. We had a well-attended joint meeting with the Southeastern Chapter-ARS at the Visitor Center of the North Carolina Arboretum. Don Hyatt gave an outstanding program on native

azaleas, distributed native azalea seed, and gave native azalea seedlings to every attendee.

October 12, 2003. The chapter meeting topic was "Back to Basics", a free-ranging discussion of azalea culture. Guests included Karel Bernady and Jim Gears from the Philadelphia area, here on a

native azalea seed-gathering expedition.


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