Rhododendron arborescens is a large, loosely branched shrub, 8-12 ft. tall with an equal spread. Glossy, bright green, deciduous foliage lacks the hairs on the underside of the leaves that other native azaleas have. 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.
Relatively tall and fast-growing for a native azalea, Rhododendron arborescens is one of the hardiest native white azaleas and one of the last azaleas to bloom in the spring. It is drought-sensitive and requires moist, partially shaded sites.