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An evergreen shrub up to 20 ft high; young shoots at first covered with pale rust-coloured wool. Leaves lanceolate-oblong, pointed, rounded or broadly tapered at the base, 4 to 9 in. long, 11⁄2 to 21⁄2 in. wide, dull dark green, ultimately glabrous above, clothed beneath with a soft, pale brown felt; stalk 3⁄4 to 1 in. long, felted. Flowers produced in spring, twelve to twenty crowded in a terminal hemispherical truss 5 or 6 in. wide. Corolla bell-shaped, 2 in. wide, soft rosy crimson spotted on the upper side. Stamens ten, downy at the base; anthers brown. Ovary brown-felted; style 11⁄2 in. long, glabrous. Calyx small with unequal pointed lobes; flower-stalk 1 in. long, downy. Bot. Mag., t. 5387.
R. batemanii was discovered and introduced by Booth in 1850; flowered by James Bateman at Knypersley Hall, Staffordshire, in February 1863. Lost sight of in most gardens for many years, it has survived in the Earl of Stair’s garden at Loch Inch in Wigtownshire. It is considered to have some affinity with R. campanulatum but is very distinct in the narrow, pointed leaves, in the rich red of the flowers, and in the very downy ovary and flower-stalk. J. G. Millais suggested that it is a hybrid between that species and R. arboreum, an origin which would explain the differences from R. campanulatum just enumerated. It is hardy at Kew.
There is another rhododendron which has been preserved in cultivation in the gardens at Loch Inch in a somewhat similar way. This is called there “R. nobile” and is a very handsome plant with bright carmine flowers in trusses about 4 in. across, opening in April and May. The leaves are covered with felt beneath. The name “R. nobile”, however, really has no standing because Wallich, the botanist who first used it in his Indian herbarium (now preserved at Kew), gummed on to one sheet (No. 1521) flowering specimens of two distinct species, one of which is R. nilagiricum, and labelled them “R. nobile”. He never published a description. The Loch Inch plant therefore has no right to this name and it is something of a mystery how it acquired it. It was quite hardy when grown at Kew.
This is probably a natural hybrid between R. arboreum and R. wallichii or, less likely, R. campanulatum (Rev. 2, p. 374).