Rhododendron heliolepis Franch.


R. plebeium Balf. f. & W. W. Sm.

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An evergreen shrub up to 10 ft high; young shoots greyish, scaly. Leaves ovate-lanceolate, pointed, rounded at the base, 2 to 4 in. long, 1 to 134 in. wide, dark green above, rather tawny green beneath and sprinkled thickly with glistening scales; stalk 14 to 34 in. long. Flowers four to seven in a loose cluster, opening in late May or June. Calyx 110 in. long, with rounded lobes, scaly like the flower-stalk, which is 12 to 34 in. long. Corolla widely funnel-shaped, 1 to 113 in. long and wide, scaly outside, rosy red with crimson markings. Stamens ten, 12 to 34 in. long, densely downy at the base; ovary densely scaly; style as long as the stamens, downy at the base. (s. Heliolepis)

Native of N.W. Yunnan and bordering parts of Burma; discovered by the French missionary Delavay in 1886 between Tali and Hoching; introduced by Forrest in 1912 from the Shweli-Salween divide. In its leaf it bears a strong resemblance to the well-known R. rubiginosum in the same series, but flowers much later and is valuable on that account. A form raised from Forrest 26961 received an Award of Merit when shown by Mrs Stevenson of Tower Court, Ascot, on May 29, 1954. The seeds under this number were collected by Forrest in 1925 near the Chimi-li pass on the Burma-Yunnan border, near to where Farrer and Cox had collected seeds six years earlier.

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

var. brevistylum (Franch.) Cullen R. brevistylum Franch.; R. pholidotum Balf.f. & W.W. Sm.; R. porrosquameum Balf.f. & Forr. – See R. brevistylum, page 613. Only the shape of the leaves separates this from var. heliolepis. The short style to which the epithet refers is of no significance.



Other species in the genus