Rhododendron hemitrichotum Balf. f. & Forr.

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An evergreen shrub 2 to 3 (sometimes 4 or 5) ft high, with slender, softly downy young shoots. Leaves oblong to narrowly ovate or oblanceolate, pointed, tapered at the base to a very short stalk; margins recurved; 1 to 112 (sometimes 2) in. long, 14 to 12 (sometimes 34) in. wide; dull green and downy above, glaucous and scaly but downy only on the midrib beneath. Flowers produced in April usually in pairs from several of the terminal leaf-axils, constituting altogether a crowded cluster 112 to 2 in. wide. Calyx saucer-shaped, not lobed, scaly like the flower-stalk which is 14 in. long. Corolla white to pale rose, 12 to 34 in. wide, funnel-shaped at the base with five broadly ovate lobes. Stamens ten, slightly downy towards the base; ovary scaly, style glabrous. (s. Scabrifolium)

R. hemitrichotum was described from a specimen collected by Forrest in the Muli mountains of S.W. Szechwan at 12,000 ft in July 1918 and was introduced by him the following winter (F.16250). Kingdon Ward sent seeds from the same area three years later (KW 4050), and there have been later sendings from S.W. Szechwan and also from Yunnan. In describing this species, Balfour compared it with R. mollicomum (q.v.), from which it differs in the white underside of the leaves. This character it shares with R. racemosum, and Davidian has pointed out that the two are closely allied. The chief distinction is that R. hemitrichotum is a more downy species; typically, too, it has the leaves much narrower than in R. racemosum, but this is a less reliable character for distinguishing the two species. It flowers quite young when raised from seed, sometimes in three or four years. It is hardy at Kew, having grown there in the open air since 1922.



Other species in the genus