W.S. Di Piero 6:30 a.m., Sept. 17
The native rhododendron, Western Azalea, is blooming this month in scattered locations throughout the county's higher mountains. Fond of semi-shade, it's often found growing along creeks and canyon bottoms. Like its ornamental cousins, western azalea's fragrant white (sometimes pink or yellow tinted) flowers are borne in ornate clusters. Palomar Mountain State Park harbors a colony of them alongside a trail linking Doane Valley and Chimney Flats. White-flowering azaleas are recovering along the Azalea Glen Trail in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, the area thoroughly burned during the 2003 Cedar Fire.