Tropical Gardening: Vireya rhododendrons and azaleas bloom in Hawaii

Photo courtesy of Voltaire Moise Tropical Vireya Rhododendrons and azaleas are closely related. They prefer moist, cool mauka climates, but grow well in the moist lowlands of East Hawaii. The flowers shown here are one of many azalea varieties that show up in garden shops this spring.

Tropical Asia is well known for its spectacular rainforests loaded with many species of palms and carnivorous Nepenthes pitcher plants but it is easy to miss the tropical Vireya Rhododendrons growing as epiphytes high in the tops of gigantic trees. Most folks spend their time looking at terrestrial plants, or avoiding leeches, snakes and other jungle critters.