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Rhododendron prinophyllum (Early azalea)
Muller, Thomas L.

Rhododendron prinophyllum

Rhododendron prinophyllum (Small) Millais

Early Azalea, Roseshell Azalea, Woolly Azalea

Ericaceae (Heath Family)

Synonym(s): Azalea prinophylla, Rhododendron nudiflorum var. roseum, Rhododendron roseum


USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

Early azalea or roseshell azalea is usually a 6-12 ft. tall and wide, multi-stemmed shrub, with picturesque, ascending branching. Funnel-shaped, light pink or purplish flowers with protruding stamens occur in large clusters, appearing before or with the leaves. Smooth, blue-green, deciduous foliage turns purplish in fall.

This azalea is extremely hardy with marked tolerance to high pH.


From the Image Gallery

10 photo(s) available in the Image Gallery

Plant Characteristics

Duration: Perennial
Habit: Shrub
Leaf Retention: Deciduous
Leaf Arrangement: Alternate
Leaf Complexity: Simple
Breeding System: Flowers Bisexual
Fruit Type: Capsule
Size Notes: Up to about 15 feet tall, often shorter.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Pink
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May , Jun


USA: AL , AR , CT , GA , IL , KY , MA , MD , ME , MO , NC , NH , NJ , NY , OH , OK , PA , RI , TN , TX , VA , VT , WV
Native Distribution: NH to s. Que., s. to n.w. NC & KY; also s. IL to e. TX
Native Habitat: Damp thickets; open woods; shores

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Circumneutral (pH 6.8-7.2)
Soil Description: Thin, well-drained soils.
Conditions Comments: This azalea is extremely hardy with marked tolerance to high pH. Good cultural practices reduce the incidence of disease and insect damage.

Value to Beneficial Insects

Special Value to Bumble Bees

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


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

National Wetland Indicator Status

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 on display at the following locations:

Native Plant Center at Westchester Community College, The - Valhalla, NY
Delaware Nature Society - Hockessin, DE
Mt. Cuba Center - Hockessin, DE

Web Reference

Webref 38 - Flora of North America (2019) Missouri Botanical Garden, St. Louis, MO & Harvard University Herbaria, Cambridge, MA.
Webref 1 - Texas Native Shrubs (2002) Texas A&M University Agriculture Program and Leslie Finical, Dallas Arboretum

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2022-10-20
Research By: TWC Staff

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