Small shrub, to 1 m; leaf bud scales persistent or deciduous. Leaves (1-)1.4-3.5 x 0.8-1.6 cm, ovate to elliptic, rarely orbicular, apex rounded, mucronate, lower surface covered with 2-3 tiers of overlapping scales, the upper tier dark brown (rarely pale), those of the lowest tier at least as dark as the rest. Flowers 15-20, in a dense racemose umbel; calyx lobes 3.5-4.5 mm; corolla white or pink (rarely yellowish), hypocrateriform, tube 6-12 mm, densely pilose within, lobes 4-7.5 mm, glabrous; stamens (5-)6-8(-10); ovary scaly. Flowering April-May Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
RHS Hardiness Rating H5
Conservation status Least concern (LC)
An evergreen shrub 2 ft or less high, of compact habit; young branchlets hairy and covered with brown scurf; leaf-bud scales deciduous. Leaves oval or ovate, 1 to 11⁄2 in. long, 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. wide, dark, rather glossy green above, covered with brown scales beneath; stalk 1⁄4 in. long. Flowers white, pink, or sulphur-coloured, 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. across, produced in a small terminal cluster, 1 to 11⁄2 in. wide. Corolla thin, almost transparent, tube hairy inside expanding at the mouth into five wavy lobes; calyx-lobes oblong, pale green, 1⁄8 in. long, fringed at the margin; stamens five to eight, very short, and included within the tube; flower-stalk scaly, 1⁄6 in. or less in length; style short and thick. Flowers in April. Bot. Mag., t. 3947. (s. Anthopogon)
Native of the high Himalaya from Kashmir eastwards, up to 16,000 ft altitude, where it covers large areas; introduced in 1820. The whole plant has a strong, aromatic, slightly acrid odour, especially when crushed. It is an interesting little plant, and one of the hardiest of Himalayan species, but not in any way showy.
The Award of Merit was given on April 29, 1969 to the clone ‘Betty Graham’, with deep pink flowers, raised from Ludlow and Sherriff 1091 and shown by E. H. M. and P. A. Cox.
Leaf bud scales deciduous.
Distribution Nepal, N India (Uttar Pradesh to Arunachal Pradesh), Bhutan, China (S Tibet).
Awards AM 1955 (Mrs L.C.R. Messel & National Trust, Nymans Garden); flowers Fuchsine Pink. AM 1969 (E.H.M. & P.A. Cox, Glendoick Gardens, Perth) to a clone ‘Betty Graham’, from L. & S. 1091; flowers deep pink.
R. hypenanthum Balf.f.
Leaf bud scales persistent.
Distribution NW India (Kashmir to Uttar Pradesh), Nepal, Bhutan.
Awards AM 1974 (Glendoick Gardens Ltd, Perth) to a clone ‘Annapurna’, as R. hypenanthum, from S., S. & W. 9090; flowers yellow, with darker staining.
Taxonomic note (R. hypenanthum Balf.f.)
Subsp. hypenanthum is a western vicariad of subsp. anthopogon. Var. album Davidian is a white-flowered variant of subsp. anthopogon.
Bean described this taxon as R. hypenanthum Balf.f. “This rhododendron is very closely related to R. anthopogon and was not distinguished from it until 1916. In the true R. anthopogon the scales that surround the base of the winter-buds fall away as soon as, or soon after, the leaves open; but in R. hypenanthum these scales – triangular, overlapping, and ciliate – remain clasping the twigs for several years. So far as is known, the flowers in R. hypenanthum are always yellow. It is a native of the Himalaya, but has not yet been found east of Nepal.” (Bean 1981)