Azaleas are flowering shrubs in the genus Rhododendron
Azaleas bloom in spring, their flowers often lasting several weeks. Shade tolerant, they prefer living near or under trees.
Plant enthusiasts have selectively bred azaleas for hundreds of years. This human selection has produced over 10,000 different cultivars which are propagated by cuttings. Azalea seeds can also be collected and germinated.
Azaleas are native to several continents including Asia, Europe and North America. They are planted abundantly as ornamentals in the southeastern USA, southern Asia,and parts of southwest Europe.
In Chinese culture, the azalea is known as "thinking of home bush" (sixiang shu) and is immortalized in the poetry of Du Fu.
The azalea is also one of the symbols of the city of São Paulo, in Brazil.
In addition to being renowned for its beauty, the azalea is also highly toxic—it contains andromedotoxins in both its leaves and nectar, including honey from the nectar.