Shrubs or trees, to 5 m, not rhizomatous. Stems: bark smooth to vertically furrowed, shredding; twigs unicellular and multicellular eglandular-hairy and unicellular-hairy. Leaves deciduous; petiole densely unicellular-hairy and sparsely to densely multicellular eglandular-hairy; blade ovate or obovate to elliptic, 4.3-7.1 × 1.8-2.9 cm, membranous, margins entire, plane, ciliate, multicellular eglandular-hairy, apex acute to obtuse, mucronate, surfaces sparsely scattered, multicellular eglandular-hairy, abaxial surface moderately to densely unicellular-hairy and multicellular eglandular-hairy, midvein densely unicellular-hairy and multicellular eglandular-hairy, secondary veins sometimes multicellular eglandular-hairy, adaxial surface sparsely to densely unicellular-hairy, midvein densely unicellular-hairy. Floral bud scales glabrous abaxially, margins unicellular-ciliate near apex, glandular along proximal 2/3. Inflorescences 5-9 flowered; bracts similar to bud scales. Pedicels 5-11 mm, densely unicellular-hairy and sparsely to densely multicellular eglandular-hairy, sometimes multicellular glandular-hairy. Flowers opening after leaves have expanded, erect to horizontal, strongly fragrant (fresh during mid day); calyx lobes 0.5-1 mm (often varying in length on same flower), margins setose, multicellular eglandular-hairy, abaxial surface sparsely to densely unicellular-hairy and multicellular eglandular-hairy, sometimes sparsely multicellular, weakly glandular-hairy; corolla white, lobes pink tinged on newly opened flowers, with yellow to orange blotch on upper lobe (style white), funnelform, 24-50 mm, outer surface densely unicellular-hairy and sparsely to densely multicellular stipitate-glandular-hairy (glands usually weakly developed), inner surface densely unicellular-hairy, petals connate, upper lobe 9-17 mm, lateral lobes 11-25 mm, tube gradually expanding into lobes, 13-25 mm (equaling or much longer than lobes); stamens 5, exserted, ± unequal, 45-67 mm. Capsules borne on erect pedicels, 12-19 × 4-8 mm, sparsely to densely unicellular-hairy and multicellular eglandular-hairy. Seeds without distinct tails, flattened portion of testa well developed at each end; testa expanded, dorsiventrally flattened, ± loose. Flowering late spring-early summer. Forests on north-facing slopes near limestone; 30-200 m; S.C. Older collections of Rhododendron eastmanii were typically referred to R. alabamense, which flowers early in the spring before the leaves have expanded, and has inflorescence bud scales are unicellular-ciliate; in R. eastmanii the bud scale margins are glandular.