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An evergreen shrub up to 10 ft high; young shoots densely scaly. Leaves oblong-lanceolate, slenderly pointed, more or less tapered at the base; 2 to 4 in. long, 1 to 13⁄4 in. wide; dark green above, tawny green beneath, rather thinly scaly on both sides; stalk 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in. long. Flowers in clusters of four to eight, opening in June and July. Corolla widely funnel-shaped, 11⁄2 in. wide and nearly as long, conspicuously scaly outside, downy at the base inside, pale to deep rose with crimson markings on the upper lobes. Stamens ten, very downy on the lower half; ovary thickly scaly; style pubescent towards the base. Calyx small, wavy-lobed, scaly, sometimes slightly ciliate; flower-stalk up to 1 in. long, scaly. (s. Heliolepis)
Native mainly of N.W. Yunnan but also found farther west, on the Irrawaddy-Lohit divide; discovered by Père Soulié on the Se La, Mekong-Salween divide in 1875 and introduced by Forrest in 1912. It was reintroduced by Kingdon Ward in 1926 from the valley of the Di Chu, a tributary of the Lohit rising at the Diphuk La, at the meeting point of Assam, Burma, and Tibet. He saw it in flower on July 13 and remarked in his field note: ‘Now almost in full bloom, still a fine sight a fortnight later. Very free-flowering, a beautiful late species’ (KW 7108).
R. brevistylum is allied to R. heliolepis, also a late-flowering species, but differs in the short style and in having the leaves tapered and not rounded at the base.
For this and R. pholidotum, see R. heliolepis in this supplement.