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Rhododendron arborescens (Smooth azalea)
Littrell II, Ken

Rhododendron arborescens

Rhododendron arborescens (Pursh) Torr.

Smooth azalea, Sweet azalea

Ericaceae (Heath Family)

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 Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf: Dark Green
Flower:
Fruit:
Size Class: 12-36 ft.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Pink
Bloom Time: Jun , Jul

Distribution

USA: AL , GA , KY , MD , MS , NC , NY , PA , SC , TN , VA , WV
Native Distribution: Mountains of NY & PA to KY, s. to AL & LA
Native Habitat: Swamp forests; mt. bogs & stream banks; piedmont

Growing Conditions

Water 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.

Benefit

Warning: 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

Propagation

Description: 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

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Bumble Bees

This information was provided by the Pollinator Program at The Xerces Society for Invertebrate Conservation.

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

Region:AGCPAKAWCBEMPGPHIMWNCNEWMVE
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 Suppliers Directory

According to the inventory provided by Associate Suppliers, this plant is available at the following locations:

Edge of the Woods Native Plant Nursery - Orefield, PA
LAMTREE FARM - Warrensville, NC
American Native Nursery - Quakertown, PA

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, DE
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE

Additional resources

USDA: Find Rhododendron arborescens in USDA Plants
FNA: Find Rhododendron arborescens in the Flora of North America (if available)
Google: Search Google for Rhododendron arborescens

Metadata

Record Last Modified: 2012-08-11
Research By: TWC Staff

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