Rhododendron strigillosum Franch.

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An evergreen shrub or small tree up to 20 ft high, the young shoots and leafstalks clothed thickly with stiff, pale, gland-tipped bristles, 1/6 in. long, which persist partially through the first winter. Leaves narrowly oblong-lanceolate, slender pointed, heart-shaped at the base, 3 to 6 in. long, 34 to 112 in. wide, dull green and glabrous above, clothed with brown hairs beneath, especially on the midrib; stalk 14 to 58 in. long. Flowers borne in March, sometimes in February or April, in terminal trusses of up to twelve, on bristly stalks about 12 in. long. Calyx rim-like. Corolla rich red, sometimes paler or even white, tubular-campanulate, 112 to 2 in. long and wide, unspotted, with dark nectar-pouches at the base. Stamens ten, glabrous. Ovary densely clad with gland-tipped bristles; style glabrous. Bot. Mag., t. 8864. (s. Barbatum ss. Maculiferum)

A rare native of W. Szechwan, known only from Mt Omei, the Wa-shan, and around Pao-hsing-hsien; discovered by the French missionary David in 1869; introduced by Wilson for Messrs Veitch in 1904. It is a striking plant, easily recognisable even when out of flower by its narrow, drooping, bristly leaves. It is hardy in a sheltered position, but flowers too early in the year to be suitable for general planting. The colour of cultivated plants is usually a rich red. It received an Award of Merit when shown from Bodnant on February 27, 1923.



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