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Rhododendron vaseyi (Pinkshell azalea)
Cressler, Alan

Rhododendron vaseyi

Rhododendron vaseyi A. Gray

Pinkshell Azalea, Pink-shell Azalea

Ericaceae (Heath Family)

Synonym(s): Biltia vaseyi


USDA Native Status: L48 (N)

A 5-15 ft. shrub with a slender-stemmed, open habit. The flowers are distinctive in that they appear before new leaves show either in the forest or on this azalea. Flowers lack the tube of most azaleas, so petals seem separate. Flowers color ranges from pink to pure white with a yellow throat. Medium-green foliage turns light- to dark-red in fall.

Pink-shell will not hybridize with other Rhododendron species. It is intolerant of drought.


From the Image Gallery

16 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.

Bloom Information

Bloom Color: White , Red , Brown
Bloom Time: Mar , Apr , May
Bloom Notes: Deep to pale pink, sometimes white, with orange-brown or red spots.


Native Distribution: Mts. of NC
Native Habitat: High elevation heath meadows, bogs & spruce forests

Growing Conditions

Light Requirement: Shade
Soil Moisture: Moist
Soil pH: Acidic (pH<6.8)
Soil Description: Moist, well-drained soil.
Conditions Comments: Good cultural practices reduce the incidence of disease and insect damage. Pinkshell will not hybridize with other Rhododendron species. Intolerant of drought.

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:

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 23 - Southwest Environmental Information Network (2009) SEINet - Arizona Chapter

Additional resources

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


Record Modified: 2023-04-03
Research By: TWC Staff

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