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Shrub, to 3 m; young growth scaly, purplish. Leaves strongly aromatic when crushed, (5-)5.7-10.5 x (1.8-)2-4 cm, oblong-ovate to oblong-elliptic, apex acute, upper surface dark green and shining, lower surface with close but not touching conspicuous brownish scales. Flowers (4-)6-10 per inflorescence; calyx minute to 3mm; corolla white to pink or purple, usually with greenish or brownish flecks on upper lobes, funnel-shaped, (22-)24-34 mm; stamens 10; ovary densely scaly, usually pubescent above, style straight, pubescent below. Flowering June-July. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
RHS Hardiness Rating H5
Conservation status Least concern (LC)
An evergreen shrub up to 10 ft high; young shoots greyish, scaly. Leaves ovate-lanceolate, pointed, rounded at the base, 2 to 4 in. long, 1 to 13⁄4 in. wide, dark green above, rather tawny green beneath and sprinkled thickly with glistening scales; stalk 1⁄4 to 3⁄4 in. long. Flowers four to seven in a loose cluster, opening in late May or June. Calyx 1⁄10 in. long, with rounded lobes, scaly like the flower-stalk, which is 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. long. Corolla widely funnel-shaped, 1 to 11⁄3 in. long and wide, scaly outside, rosy red with crimson markings. Stamens ten, 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. long, densely downy at the base; ovary densely scaly; style as long as the stamens, downy at the base. (s. Heliolepis)
Native of N.W. Yunnan and bordering parts of Burma; discovered by the French missionary Delavay in 1886 between Tali and Hoching; introduced by Forrest in 1912 from the Shweli-Salween divide. In its leaf it bears a strong resemblance to the well-known R. rubiginosum in the same series, but flowers much later and is valuable on that account. A form raised from Forrest 26961 received an Award of Merit when shown by Mrs Stevenson of Tower Court, Ascot, on May 29, 1954. The seeds under this number were collected by Forrest in 1925 near the Chimi-li pass on the Burma-Yunnan border, near to where Farrer and Cox had collected seeds six years earlier.
var. brevistylum (Franch.) Cullen R. brevistylum Franch.; R. pholidotum Balf.f. & W.W. Sm.; R. porrosquameum Balf.f. & Forr. – See R. brevistylum, page 613. Only the shape of the leaves separates this from var. heliolepis. The short style to which the epithet refers is of no significance.