Rhododendron insigne Hemsl. & Wils.

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An evergreen shrub described by Wilson as from 12 to 18 ft high in the wild, but usually seen in cultivation as a rounded bush of stocky growth. Leaves very hard and firm in texture, narrowly elliptical to lanceolate, sharply pointed, tapered at the base, glossy dark green above, covered beneath with a close silvery down that ultimately turns brown, 2 to 5 in. long, 12 to 2 in. wide; stalk thick and flattish, 13 to 34 in. long. Flowers opening in May in hemispherical trusses 4 to 5 in. wide, carrying fifteen or more flowers. Calyx small, shallowly five-lobed; slightly downy like the flower-stalk, which is up to 2 in. long. Corolla bell-shaped, five-lobed, 2 in. wide, 114 to 112 in. deep, soft pink, the upper lobes maroon-spotted; the outside is broadly striped with deep rosy pink. Stamens normally ten, 13 to 58 in. long, downy at the base; ovary thickly downy; style glabrous. Bot. Mag., t. 8885. (s. Arboreum ss. Argyrophyllum)

Native of W. Szechwan, China; introduced in 1908 by Wilson, who found it growing on the limestone bluffs of Mt Wu. It had, however, been seen by Henry and Pratt long before. It is an attractive and distinct species, considered to have some affinity with R. arboreum. The deep rosy bands of colour at the back of the corolla (they occur also in R. thayerianum) are very effective; the metallic lustre of the undersurface of the leaf is distinctive. It flowered when only 1 ft high and is very hardy at Kew.

R. insigne received an Award of Merit when shown from Bodnant on June 12, 1923.



Other species in the genus