False azaleas are so closely related to the true azaleas that it has recently been suggested that they be included in the same genus. When not in flower this species closely resembles an azalea. However, the flowers are small, reddish and bell-shaped, more like blueberry than azalea flowers. Leaves are bluish green, slightly sticky and strongly scented, growing in attractive bunches. They take on orange-brown autumn colours and are deciduous.
False azalea grows naturally in the western parts of North America, in shady wet places in mountain forests. In Finland it should be planted, like the rhododendrons, in light acid peat-rich soil. Using seed of the right provenance, it should be hardy in the whole of southern Finland. The Mustila plants were brought as seed from British Columbia in 1995 and are thriving near the pool in Tuijalaakso (White-Cedar Valley) in moist conditions.
The Quinault Native Americans believed that a woman could make a man fall in love with her by waving a forked false azalea branch.