A low, deciduous or semi-evergreen azalea; young shoots furnished with brown, appressed, bristly hairs; grey and glabrous the second year. Leaves usually two to four at the end of the twigs, ovate to oval or rarely obovate, pointed, 3⁄4 to 11⁄2 in. long, 1⁄4 to 1 in. wide, bristly on the midrib beneath when young and on the margins, otherwise glabrous; distinctly net-veined beneath; stalk 1⁄4 in. or less long, hairy like the young shoots. Flowers solitary or twin, opening in spring. Calyx small, covered like the very short flower-stalk with brown down. Corolla 11⁄2 to 2 in. wide, rose-coloured, of varying depth of shade with purple spots on the upper lobes; the tube short, funnel-shaped, spreading into five oblong, round-ended lobes. Stamens eight or ten, 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. long, glabrous. Ovary covered with erect brown bristles; style well protruded, glabrous. (s. Azalea ss. Schlippenbachii)
Native of Hong Kong and the adjacent mainland of China; introduced by Captain Farrer of the East India Company in 1829. It was again introduced to the Horticultural Society's garden at Chiswick by Fortune and flowered there about 1846. It is very rare in cultivation now. It is found in the same region as R. championiae and is only likely to succeed in the very mildest parts of Britain in the open air. It is most nearly related to R. mariesii which has a leaf-stalk up to 1⁄2 in. long; both these belong to the same group of azaleas as R. schlippenbachii and R. reticulatum.
R. mariesii Hemsl. & Wils. – Allied to R. farrerae, differing in the larger leaves, 11⁄2 to 3 in. long, about half as wide, on almost glabrous stalks up to 1⁄2 in. long (hence about twice as long as in R. farrerae). The flowers, borne in April on the bare wood, are pink or rose, spotted with reddish purple on the upper lobes. Native of eastern and central China, and of Formosa, at altitudes of up to 4,000 ft. It was introduced to Kew in 1886 by Augustine Henry and reintroduced by Wilson in 1900, in both cases from the neighbourhood of Ichang in W. Hupeh. is uncommon in cultivation and not entirely hardy. Bot. Mag., t. 8206.