Rhododendron beesianum Diels


R. colletum Balf. f. & Forr.; R. emaculatum Balf. f. & Forr.

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An evergreen shrub or small tree up to 20 ft high; young shoots stout, nearly 12 in. in diameter, soon glabrous. Leaves elliptic-oblong, inclined to oblanceolate, rather abruptly narrowed to a short point, rounded or slightly heart-shaped at the base, 6 in. to over 1 ft long, 112 to 312 in. wide, dark green and glabrous above, covered beneath with a thin, close, red-brown, felt-like down; stalk up to 114 in. long, slightly flattened or winged. Flowers in a racemose truss of twenty or more and 5 or 6 in. across, each flower on a downy stalk 1 to 112 in. long. Calyx merely a wavy rim. Corolla openly bell-shaped, 2 in. long and wide, white to deep rich rose with a few crimson markings or a basal blotch, five-lobed. Stamens ten, downy at the base, about 1 in. long; ovary cylindrical, covered with brown down; style glabrous, 1 in. long. Bot. Mag., n.s., t. 125 (s. Lacteum)

R. beesianum was discovered by Forrest in 1906 on the eastern flank of the Lichiang range in N.W. Yunnan and was subsequently found to have a wide range, from S.W. Szechwan to the eastern end of the Himalaya. It occurs at 11,000 to 14,000 ft and often forms miniature forests above the coniferous belt. Forrest sent seed of this species many times from 1906 onwards, and so later did Kingdon Ward and Rock. It is one of the large-leaved species of the Lacteum series and, like R. lacteum itself, is difficult to cultivate and uncommon, though quite hardy. It needs shelter from wind and some shade. There are fine specimens in the Edinburgh collection, and at Blackhills, Morayshire.



Other species in the genus