An evergreen shrub 6 to 15 ft high; young shoots glabrous, slender, brown. Leaves clustered at the end of the twig, narrowly oval to oblanceolate, abruptly but sharply pointed, tapered at the base, of stiff texture, 2 to 4 in. long, 1 to 11⁄2 in. wide, dark shining green above, paler beneath, quite glabrous: stalk 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in. long. Flowers fragrant, produced in April or May in clusters of three or four, each cluster springing from an axil of one of the leaves which are crowded near the end of the shoot. Calyx with five glabrous, narrow, bluntish lobes up to 1⁄8 in. long; flower-stalk 3⁄4 in. long. Corolla white, stained with yellow on the three upper lobes, funnel-shaped with a slender tube, spreading into five recurved lobes, and 1 to 2 in. wide. Stamens ten, if to 2 in. long, standing out far beyond the corolla, with some white down near the base. Ovary glabrous or slightly downy; style rather longer than the stamens and quite glabrous. Bot. Mag., t. 8601. (s. Stamineum).
Native of western and central China; discovered by Père Delavay in 1882 in N.E. Yunnan, near the border with Szechwan. Wilson collected seeds in Hupeh for Messrs Veitch in the autumn of 1900, and a plant raised from these flowered at Caerhays in 1911. He reintroduced it in 1910, during his second expedition for the Arnold Arboretum, this time from Mt Omei in W. Szechwan. According to Wilson it is a low-level rhododendron, growing at 4,000 to 6,000 ft, and usually found in hot, moist valleys among other shrubs, most of them evergreen.
R. stamineum is the type of an interesting series, further discussed on page 588. It received an Award of Merit as a shrub for the cool greenhouse when exhibited by the Crown Estate Commissioners, Windsor Great Park, on May 24, 1971, but there is a plant at Wakehurst Place, Sussex, 10 ft high in a sheltered place.