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Littrell II, Ken
Rhododendron arborescens (Pursh) Torr.
Smooth azalea, Sweet azalea
Synonym(s): Azalea arborescens, Rhododendron arborescens var. richardsonii
USDA Symbol: RHAR3
USDA Native Status: L48 (N)
Smooth azalea is a large, loosely-branched shrub, 8-12 ft. tall with an equal spread. Glossy, bright-green, deciduous foliage lacks hairs beneath like other native azaleas. Foliage turns deep red to purple in fall. Fragrant, funnel-shaped, white or pink-tinged flowers with protruding, red stamens cluster in subtle groups of 3 to 6 after the leaves appear.
Sweet Azalea is tall and fast-growing for a native azalea. It is one of the hardiest native white azaleas, and one of the last azaleas to bloom in the spring. Drought sensitive, it requires moist, partially shaded sites.
Plant CharacteristicsDuration: Perennial Habit: Shrub Leaf:
Dark Green Flower:
Fruit: Size Class:
Bloom InformationBloom Color: White , Pink
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul
, WV Native Distribution:
Mountains of NY
s. to AL
& LA Native Habitat:
Swamp forests; mt. bogs & stream banks; piedmont
Growing ConditionsWater Use:
Medium Light Requirement:
Part Shade Soil Moisture:
Moist Soil pH:
Acidic (pH<6.8) CaCO3 Tolerance:
None Soil Description:
Moist, well-drained soils. Conditions Comments:
Sweet azalea is tall and fast-growing for a native
azalea. It is one of the hardiest native
white azaleas, and one of the last azaleas to bloom in the spring. Drought sensitive, it requires moist, partially shaded sites.
BenefitWarning: Rhododendrons contain poisonous substances and should not be ingested by humans or animals. Honey made from flowers also may be toxic. POISONOUS PARTS: All parts. Highly Toxic, May be Fatal if eaten. Symptoms include salivation, watering of eyes and nose, abdominal pain, loss of energy, depression, nausea and vomiting, diarrhea, weakness, difficult breathing, progressive paralysis of arms and legs, coma. Toxic Principle: Andromedotoxin. (Poisonous Plants of N.C.)
Conspicuous Flowers: yes
PropagationDescription: Combine seeds loosely with sphagnum moss and sprinkle lightly over a 2:1 perlite/peat mixture. Germinate under mist or a plastic tent. Optimum temperatures for germination are 45-50 degrees. Transplant seedlings to acid soil with a high content of orga
Seed Treatment: No pretreatment is necessary.
Commercially Avail: yes
Mr. Smarty Plants says
Native shrub to replace non-native azaleas.
February 10, 2009
I want to replace my two dozen azaleas this spring (I think they're unattractive once the flowers fall off). I like the multiseason characteristics of weigela (midnight wine, W&R), but want to go na...
view the full question and answer
National Wetland Indicator Status
|Status:|| FACW || FAC || FAC |
This information is derived from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers National Wetland Plant List, Version 3.1
(Lichvar, R.W. 2013. The National Wetland Plant List: 2013 wetland ratings. Phytoneuron 2013-49: 1-241). Click here
for map of regions.
From the National Organizations Directory
According to the species list provided by Affiliate Organizations, this plant is either on display or available from the following:
Delaware Nature Society
- Hockessin, DEMt. Cuba Center
- Hockessin, DE
Record Last Modified: 2012-08-11
Research By: TWC Staff