Rhododendron arborescens


Rhododendron arborescens, the Sweet Azalea, has white to blush pink flowers with red stamens, and a very strong fragrance similar to heliotrope. It blooms in late spring to early summer and individual flowers measure 1.5 to 2 inches across.

First described by John Bartram in 1814, this species has a wide distribution in the eastern United States, but can usually be found growing near streams or moist areas. It is sometimes known as the "Smooth Azalea" because the stems are very smooth and do not have hairs similar to the other azaleas.

An excellent landscape plant, R. arborescens can perfume a wide area when in bloom. Relatively easy to propagate, there are a number of excellent forms in the trade.

Distribution Map

Plants in the Wild


Barbour Co., WV
(Audra State Park)

Randolph Co., WV
(Cheat Bridge Shavers Fork)

Barbour Co., WV
(Audra State Park)

Macon Co., NC
(Wayah Bald)

Transylvana Co., NC
(Blue Ridge Parkway)

Variations in Flower Form


Macon Co., NC
(Wayah Bald)

Barbour Co., WV
(Audra State Park)

Macon Co., NC
(Wayah and Wine Spring Bald Bald)

Barbour Co., WV
(Audra State Park)

Upson Co., GA
The images presented here are reproduced with permission from color slides taken by the Species Study Group of the Middle Atlantic Chapter of the American Rhododendron Society. The slides are numbered, and correspond to the sequence used in the program Eastern Native Azalea Species presented by George K. McLellan at the East Coast Regional Conference of the ARS in November 1999.


East Coast Native Azaleas
R. vaseyi
R. canadense
R. canescens
R. austrinum
R. flammeum
R. periclymenoides
R. alabamense
R. atlanticum
R. calendulaceum
R. prinophyllum
R. viscosum
R. arborescens
R. cumberlandense
R. prunifolium
R. eastmanii

Identifying the Native Azaleas