False Azalea is an erect shrub that grows in the forest understory from sea level to the subalpine. It grows up to 6' tall. The branches have shredding bark. The leaves are thin, bluish-green and have fine hairs on both sides. The plant is sticky to touch and the leaves are aromatic (skunky) when crushed. The flowers grow in clusters of 2-10, are bell shaped and salmon to bronze in color. Unlike other heathers that produce fruit Falze Azalea produces an oval, dry, 4-valved capsule.
The genus name Menziesia is derived from Archibald Menzies (1754-1842), a physician and naturalist with Captain George Vancouver on the Discovery. The species ferruginea means "rusty" and refers to the rusty fuzz on the twigs. Rusty Menziesia is another common name as it fool's huckleberry for its similarity to the huckleberry of the lower 48.