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Shrub, to 2 m; shoots with a shredding coppery bark. Leaves 3.5-5.5 x 1.2-2(-2.3) cm, narrowly elliptic to narrowly obovate, apex acute to rounded, lower surface with scales more than 2× their own diameter apart, the smaller scales clear or milky. Pedicels scaly. Flowers 3-7(-10) per inflorescence; calyx lobes to c.8 mm, apex rounded; corolla pale to greenish yellow, campanulate, 10-20 mm; stamens 10, regular; ovary scaly, style sharply deflexed. Flowering May-July. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
Distribution Myanmar NE China Yunnan, SE Tibet
Habitat 3,050-4,000 m
RHS Hardiness Rating H5
Awards AM 1951 (Crown Estate Commissioners, Windsor) as R. brachyanthum, to a clone 'Blue Light'; flowers Aureolin.
Conservation status Vulnerable (VU)
An evergreen shrub probably 4 to 5 ft high, of rather stiff habit; young shoots reddish, scaly, becoming bright brown and smooth the second season. Leaves oblong to narrowly oval, usually tapered at the apex (sometimes rounded) to a mucro, tapered at the base, 11⁄2 to 21⁄2 in. long, 1⁄2 to 1 in. wide, dark glossy green above, slightly scaly and very glaucous beneath; stalk 1⁄8 to 1⁄4 in. long. Flowers from three or four to as many as eight or ten in a cluster, each on a slender scaly stalk 3⁄4 to 11⁄2 in. long. Calyx green, scaly outside, very large for the size of the flower, 5⁄8 to 3⁄4 in. wide with five leaf-like rounded lobes spreading out away from the corolla. Corolla clear pale yellow or tinged with green, bell-shaped with five broadly ovate, pointed, recurved lobes; 5⁄8 in. long, 3⁄4 to 1 in. wide. Stamens ten, shorter than the corolla, clothed with pale hairs to the middle and upwards; ovary scaly; style about as long as the stamens, quite smooth, swelling to a broad stigma at the top. Bot. Mag., t. 8750. (s. and ss. Glauco-phyllum)
R. brachyanthum was discovered by the Abbé Delavay in the mountains above Tali about 1884; it was found again by Forrest in 1906 in the same range at 10,000 to 11,000 ft and was introduced by him. It seems to be more local in the wild, and rarer in cultivation than the var. hypolepidotum. In its best form this is a charming and distinct species with flowers shaped like those of a campanula and of a pleasing yellow, with a large foliaceous calyx. But in other forms the green-tinted flowers are dull. It seems to be quite hardy and flowers about midsummer. Although so different in colour, the flowers in shape of corolla and size of calyx strongly resemble those of R. glaucophyllum. The seed-vessel in both is hidden by the persistent calyx, and the leaves of both have a strong odour.
Award of Merit May 23,1966, when shown by Collingwood Ingram, Benenden, Kent (clone ‘Jaune’).
subsp. hypolepidotum (Franch.) Cullen R. brachyanthum var. hypolepidotum Franch. – This is more widely distributed than the typical state (Rev. 1, p. 144).
R. shweliense – This species is recognised, but Dr Cullen remarks that most plants cultivated under the name are R. glaucophyllum or hybrids of it (Rev. 1, p. 143).
Scales on mature lower leaf surface distant, sometimes entirely deciduous.
Distribution China (C Yunnan).
Awards AM 1966 (Capt. c. Ingram, Benenden, Kent) to a clone ‘Jaune’; flowers Primrose Yellow.
Scales much closer, 1-3× their own diameter apart. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
R. hypolepidotum (Franch,) Balf. f. & Forr.
R. charitostreptum Balf. f. & Ward