Kyushu azaleas in full bloom

It's once again the time of year when Kyushu azaleas dye Mt. Unzen pink, signaling the arrival of early summer in Nagasaki Prefecture.

Miyama Kirishima, as the plant is known in Japanese, has been designated a natural monument. It only blooms in the high mountains of Kyushu.

But due to increasing crossbreeding with a different variety in recent years, pure Kyushu azaleas are becoming scarce. Hybrids are even appearing at high altitudes that were once the sole domain of the Kyushu species. Research is ongoing to determine how to protect this precious plant.

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