R. luteum is a deciduous azalea with a long history. Linnaeus first described it in 1753, and it was the foundation for the Ghent hybrid azaleas, famous for their vivid colors. The seed for this plant was collected in Turkey near the Black Sea. R. luteum is intensely fragrant, filling the garden with a sweet, intoxicating sense of spring. Autumn foliage colors range from red and orange to purple. A winner in all seasons.
R. luteum does quite well in an open sunny location. It’s a tough plant that is both cold and heat resistant. It may reach 4 – 5 feet in ten years. Supposedly the Roman army ate honey from R. luteum, fell into a stupefying sleep and were slaughtered by the Persians. Probably better to blame the bees than to look at the alternatives.