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Location: western Massachusetts.

A few candidates I can find: Hoogendorn holly; Rhododendron ferrugineum L.; Nerium oleander

It appeared pretty healthy last year and based on image search, it looks like Hoogendorn holly.

Plant 1 (large)

This May it flowers.

Flower 1 (large)

But unfortunately, this year the leaves are much more scarce and some of them are brown colored. Is this some kind of disease or snow damage? We have plenty of rain this Spring.

Disease 1 (large)

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  • I'm totally confused - the top photo does show what might be Ilex crenata; but the second and third photos are different and appear not to be the same plant - are you saying those pink flowers were on the Ilex last year? If so, its not Ilex crenata... Or are you showing two separate plants, the top one being the Ilex and the other two photos of the same plant a year apart that you believe is a Rhododendron?
    – Bamboo
    May 30 at 15:39
  • All three pictures are indeed of the same plant: 1st pic taken a year ago, 3rd pic last month or so, 2nd pic yesterday. If you look at the leaves, they look pretty similar to me, except the first picture taken last year was much more leafy.
    – Roc W.
    May 30 at 15:43
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    Aha, yes, the large one is a bit better.... its definitely not Hoogendorn holly (Ilex crenata) and I'm not convinced its a rhododendron either, the stamens in the flowers don't look right for a rhododendron. Exactly when did it die back - during winter? Did it lose all its leaves in winter? do the leaves feel a bit stiff, maybe leathery or quite soft and pliable?
    – Bamboo
    May 30 at 15:58
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    Thick and leathery likely indicates some kind of rhododendron, possibly what used to be called an azalea type, although I'm not convinced by the flowers - the stamens usually extrude a long way, there are quite a few of them and they curl upwards at the ends and I'm not seeing that. Whatever it is, it looks like some kind of problem occurred probably starting last year - drought during summer and early autumn/fall?
    – Bamboo
    May 30 at 16:16
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    If its rhododendron, they do not like to fully dry out - it may or may not recover I'm afraid. And a word about plant identification apps - as you've discovered, they do have their limitatiions!
    – Bamboo
    May 30 at 16:23

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