Shrub, 0.6–3 m. Leaves 3.5–11 × 1–2.7 cm, narrowly oblong to narrowly elliptic, lower surface with a glaucous papillate epidermis, and with varying amounts of a rufous floccose, usually patchy, tomentum composed of ramiform hairs; petioles floccose-tomentose, rarely also setulose-glandular. Flowers 4–7 per truss; calyx 14 mm; corolla fleshy, crimson to scarlet, rarely yellowish to pink, tubular-campanulate, with nectar pouches, 30–40 mm; ovary densely stellate-tomentose, lacking glands, tapering into the glabrous style. Flowering March-May. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
Distribution China SE Tibet, NW Yunnan
Habitat 2,750–3,950 m
RHS Hardiness Rating H5
Awards AM 1957 (Col Lord Digby, Minterne, Dorset); flowers pale cream, edged very pale Cherry, with pale greenish spots
Conservation status Least concern (LC)
Taxonomic note Allied to R. neriiflorum, R. sperabile and R. sperabiloides but distinguished from all three by the characteristic patchy leaf indumentum. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
An evergreen shrub 3 to 6 ft high; young shoots clothed at first with brownish-red wool. Leaves narrowly oblong-lanceolate, sharply pointed, tapered at the base, 2 to 41⁄2 in. long, 1⁄3 to 1 in. wide; dull green and glabrous above, covered with loose brownish-red wool beneath; stalk 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in. long. Flowers opening during March and April in trusses of four to eight; stalks 3⁄8 to 1⁄2 in. long, loosely downy. Calyx shallowly five-lobed. Corolla bell-shaped, 11⁄4 in. long and wide, five-lobed; in colour it is very variable, ranging from blood-red to yellow tinged with rose. Stamens ten, about 1 in. long quite glabrous; anthers black-purple. Ovary clothed with whitish felt; style about as long as the stamens, downy only near the ovary (if at all). Bot. Mag., t. 9290. (s. and ss. Neriiflorum)
R. floccigerum was discovered by the French missionary Soulié on the Mekong-Salween divide near Tseku. Forrest, who sent home seeds for the first time in 1914, found it in various parts of N.W. Yunnan, from the Chungtien plateau to the Salween-Irrawaddy divide and south to the mountains between the Chienchuan river and the Mekong. It is a hardy but early-flowering species of comparatively dwarf habit, with flowers which, in the best forms, are quite as fine a red as in R. neriiflorum. But the colour in this species varies a good deal and a plant at Kew bears flowers of rich salmon red. Some of an indeterminate mixture of rose and yellow shades are very poor and dull. One of the best is depicted in the Botanical Magazine (loc. cit. supra). The species is hardy enough for Kew. The narrow leaves, covered thickly beneath with loose rufous floss, constitute one of its most distinctive characters in the section to which it has been assigned.
[var. appropinquans] – Now included in R. neriiflorum subsp. phaedropium.