Azaleas are flowering shrubs making up part of the genus Rhododendron. Originally azaleas were classed as a different genus of plant, but now they are recognized as two of the eight subgenera of rhododendrons - Pentanthera (deciduous) and Tsutsuji (evergreen). Azaleas bloom in spring, and their flowers wilt only a few weeks later. They do not need as much sun as other plants; they live near trees and sometimes under them. Azalea is also the flower of the astrology symbol Sagittarius.
"Azalea" is derived from the Greek word azaleos, meaning "dry."
One major difference between azaleas and the rest of the rhododendron genus is their sizeflower growth; rhododendrons grow their flowers in stripers, while most azaleas have terminal blooms (one flower per flower stem). However, they have so many stems that during the flowering season they are a solid mass of colour. Azaleas are recognized by these flowers blooming all at once, in a showy display for a month or two in spring. The exception to this rule is a small group of azaleas which grow their flowers in tight terminal clusters. White azalea flower is usually not completely white but with pink spots as indicated by the arrows in the photograph.
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The Satsuki azalea group, derived from Rhododendron indicum and related species, are very popular.
A traditional alcoholic beverage made from azalea blossoms, called Tugyonju (literally "azalea grape wine"), is produced in Korea.
Azalea plants are very toxic to equines, sheep and goats, but cause no problems in cats or dogs.
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