Rhododendron araiophyllum Balf. f. & W. W. Sm.

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An evergreen shrub up to 16 ft high; young shoots glabrous or soon becoming so. Leaves red when young, lanceolate, slenderly pointed, broadly tapered at the base, 3 to 5 in. long, 58 to 114 in. wide, glabrous and green on both surfaces except for traces of wool on the midrib beneath; stalk 14 to 12 in. long. Flowers in a racemose cluster of about eight. Calyx little more than a wavy rim, glabrous; flower-stalk glabrous, slender, up to 1 in. long. Corolla open bell-shaped, 112 in. long, rather more wide, white often flushed with rose-lavender, with a crimson blotch at the base and similarly coloured spots on the upper lobes, the five lobes are notched in the middle and their margins are uneven. Stamens ten, downy at the base; ovary minutely downy, style glabrous, red, only as long as the corolla. (s. and ss. Irroratum)

R. araiophyllum was found by Forrest in 1913 on the Shweli-Salween divide at 9,000 to 10,000 ft and introduced from that region of Yunnan; Farrer later sent seeds from farther north on the Burma side of the frontier. It is one of the most attractive members of the Irroratum series and has brightly coloured young growths, though these, like the flowers, may be cut by frost. The flowering time is April or early May. Award of Merit May 4, 1971, when shown by Kew from Wakehurst Place (clone 'George Taylor').



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