Rhododendron fragariiflorum Ward

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A dwarf tufted shrub up to 8 or 9 in. high; branchlets scaly and downy. Leaves aromatic, obovate to elliptic, up to 12 in. long, half as wide, rounded at the apex, dark olive-green and glossy above, scaly on both sides, the scales on the undersurface widely spaced, dark brown or yellow; margins bristly. Inflorescence a terminal cluster of two to six flowers on pedicels about 14 in. long. Calyx five-lobed to the base, about 1/6 in. deep. Corolla between funnel-shaped and rotate, coloured 'crushed strawberry', five-lobed, between 12 and 34 in. long, glabrous outside. Stamens ten, exserted. Ovary densely scaly; style longer than the stamens, glabrous.

R. fragariiflorum was discovered by Kingdon Ward in 1924 on the Temo La and Nyima La, Tibet, in the mountains immediately to the north of the Tsangpo bend, at 14,000 to 15,000 ft, growing gregariously with other dwarf rhododendrons; it was subsequently found in the main Himalayan chain, where it extends almost as far west as the Bhutan frontier. It is at present placed in the Saluenense series, but, as Kingdon Ward remarked when describing the species, it is really intermediate between this group and the Lapponicum series. Although later reintroduced by Ludlow and Sherriff it seems to be rare in gardens. The specific epithet refers to the colour of the flowers.

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

This is now placed in the monotypic section Fragariiflora.



Other species in the genus