Rhododendron basilicum Balf. f. & W. W. Sm.

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Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles

Recommended citation
'Rhododendron basilicum' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/rhododendron/rhododendron-basilicum/). Accessed 2020-10-26.



  • Rhododendron megaphyllum Balf. f. & Forr.
  • Rhododendron regale Balf. f. & Ward

Other species in genus


(pl. calyces) Outer whorl of the perianth. Composed of several sepals.
The inner whorl of the perianth. Composed of free or united petals often showy.
Lowest part of the carpel containing the ovules; later developing into the fruit.
(pl. apices) Tip. apical At the apex.
Lacking hairs smooth. glabrescent Becoming hairless.
Generally an elongated structure arising from the ovary bearing the stigma at its tip.


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Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles

Recommended citation
'Rhododendron basilicum' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/rhododendron/rhododendron-basilicum/). Accessed 2020-10-26.

Shrub or small tree, 3-10 m; bark rough. Leaves 17-25 x 8.5-13 cm, obovate to oblanceolate, upper surface with deeply impressed veins, lower surface covered with a dense two-layered indumentum, the upper layer greyish at first, usually becoming rufous, composed of only slightly fimbriate cup-shaped hairs, the lower layer compacted; petioles strongly flattened and winged. Flowers 15-25, in a dense truss, 8-lobed, fleshy, cream or pale yellow, with a crimson blotch, obliquely campanulate, nectar pouches lacking, 35-50 mm; stamens 16; ovary densely rufous-tomentose. Flowering April-May. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)

Distribution  Myanmar NE China W Yunnan

Habitat 3,000-3,700 m

RHS Hardiness Rating H4

Awards AM 1956 (Col Lord Digby, Minterne, Dorset) from Forrest 24139; flowers pale whitish cream, with a crimson blotch.

Conservation status Near threatened (NT)

Taxonomic note The flattened petioles and yellow flowers distinguish this from the remaining species in the subsection. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)

An evergreen shrub or small tree up to 30 ft high; young shoots clothed with red-brown, soft felt. Leaves oval or obovate, rounded at the apex, less so or broadly tapered at the base, 6 to 13 in. long, about half as much wide, dark green and ultimately glabrous above, covered beneath with a rich red-brown down; stalk very stout, flattened above, up to 114 in. long. Flowers opening in April, numerously and closely packed in a truss 5 in. or more wide. Calyx a mere wavy rim; flower-stalks 1 to 113 in. long, downy. Corolla broadly and obliquely bell-shaped, eight-lobed, 112 in. wide, pale yellow flushed with rose and blotched with crimson at the base. Stamens sixteen, nearly or quite glabrous. Ovary densely clothed with down; style glabrous. (s. Falconeri)

Native of N.W. Yunnan and bordering parts of upper Burma, but of limited distribution; discovered by Forrest in 1910 on the Shweli-Salween divide and introduced by him in 1912. His F.24139 is also from this area and a plant raised from it received an Award of Merit when shown by Col. The Lord Digby, Minterne Abbey, Dorset, in 1956. It is also in cultivation from Farrer 873 (Hpimaw pass, Nmai-Salween divide) and Rock 03904. It occurs at altitudes of up to 11,000 ft.

R. basilicum is perfectly hardy south of London in light woodland.


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