Rhododendron wilsoniae Hemsl. & Wils.

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An evergreen shrub up to 6 or 7 ft high, with glabrous, slender branches. Leaves narrowly oval or oval-lanceolate, 212 to 412 in. long, 1 to 134 in. wide; narrowly tapered at the base, acuminate at the apex, glabrous on both surfaces, rather glossy above, pale beneath, the texture leathery or even hardish; stalk up to 12 in. long. Flowers slightly fragrant, produced singly from a scaly bud in the axil of each leaf at the end of the shoot, four or six in all; pedicels 34 to 1 in. long, glabrous. Calyx five-lobed, the lobes curiously diverse in length, some being quite short, others linear and up to 12 in. long. Corolla flesh-pink, about 2 in. across, funnel-shaped at the base, deeply five-lobed, the upper lobe spotted with brown. Stamens ten, hairy at the base. Style and ovary glabrous, the latter long and slender. (s. Stamineum)

Native of central China; discovered by Wilson in the Patung district of W. Hupeh, where it grows in rocky places with other shrubs and trees at 5,000 to 6,500 ft, and introduced by him in 1900 when collecting for Messrs Veitch. It first flowered in 1912 at Caerhays. R. wilsoniae is a rather tender species, but has grown at Wakehurst Place, Sussex, for many years in a fairly exposed position, and is 10 ft high there. It received an Award of Merit as a shrub for the cool greenhouse when shown by the Crown Estate Commissioners, Windsor Great Park, on March 30, 1971.



Other species in the genus