Dwarf shrub; young shoots glabrescent. Leaves in whorls of up to three, at the ends of the branches, thick, 1.5-3 x 1-2 cm, ovate, apex acute, lower surface covered with long brown simple hairs; petioles densely villose. Pedicels villose. Flowers 1-2, appearing before the leaves; calyx minute; corolla pale purple or lilac, upper lobe spotted, open-campanulate, 20-30 mm; stamens 10; ovary densely hairy, eglandular, style glabrous. Flowering June. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
Distribution China S
Habitat 600 m
RHS Hardiness Rating H2
Conservation status Least concern (LC)
Taxonomic note R. farrerae is closely allied to R. mariesii but differs in its small thick leaves and densely villose petioles. As this is a very tender species it is very rare in cultivation. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
A low, deciduous or semi-evergreen azalea; young shoots furnished with brown, appressed, bristly hairs; grey and glabrous the second year. Leaves usually two to four at the end of the twigs, ovate to oval or rarely obovate, pointed, 3⁄4 to 11⁄2 in. long, 1⁄4 to 1 in. wide, bristly on the midrib beneath when young and on the margins, otherwise glabrous; distinctly net-veined beneath; stalk 1⁄4 in. or less long, hairy like the young shoots. Flowers solitary or twin, opening in spring. Calyx small, covered like the very short flower-stalk with brown down. Corolla 11⁄2 to 2 in. wide, rose-coloured, of varying depth of shade with purple spots on the upper lobes; the tube short, funnel-shaped, spreading into five oblong, round-ended lobes. Stamens eight or ten, 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. long, glabrous. Ovary covered with erect brown bristles; style well protruded, glabrous. (s. Azalea ss. Schlippenbachii)
Native of Hong Kong and the adjacent mainland of China; introduced by Captain Farrer of the East India Company in 1829. It was again introduced to the Horticultural Society’s garden at Chiswick by Fortune and flowered there about 1846. It is very rare in cultivation now. It is found in the same region as R. championiae and is only likely to succeed in the very mildest parts of Britain in the open air. It is most nearly related to R. mariesii which has a leaf-stalk up to 1⁄2 in. long; both these belong to the same group of azaleas as R. schlippenbachii and R. reticulatum.