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Shrub, 2(-5) m; young shoots sparsely scaly. Leaves (1-)5.5-8(-11) x (1.8-)2.5-3.5(-5) cm, elliptic to broadly elliptic, lower surface densely covered with small-rimmed brownish scales. Pedicels scaly. Flowers 5-8, in a dense inflorescence; calyx lobes 1-2 mm; corolla white to pink, usually with greenish flecks, (21-)25-30(-35) mm, tube scaly, occasionally also hairy on outside, pubescent within; stamens 10; ovary scaly, style more or less glabrous. Flowering May-June. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
Distribution United States E & S
RHS Hardiness Rating H6
Conservation status Least concern (LC)
An evergreen bush up to 20 ft high in the wild, sometimes taller; young shoots rough with scales. Leaves oval-lanceolate to narrowly obovate, tapering at both ends, the apex usually acuminate, 11⁄2 to 3 in. long, 1⁄2 to 11⁄2 in. wide, dark green and nearly glabrous above, thickly dotted beneath with minute red-brown scales; stalk 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in. long. Flowers in dense terminal trusses, opening in June; pedicels up to 3⁄4 in. long. Calyx-lobes very short. Corolla 1 to 11⁄2 in. wide, funnel-shaped, pale pinkish purple, spotted on the upper side with brownish-red, densely scaly on the outside. Stamens ten, hairy at the base. Ovary scaly; style glabrous. Bot. Mag., t. 2285. (s. Carolinianum)
Native of the south-eastern USA from South Carolina to Georgia and Alabama; introduced in 1786. As seen in this country it is inferior to its ally R. carolinianum, from which it differs in its more pointed leaves, in the corollas being densely scaly on the outside, and in their longer tubes, 2⁄3 in. or more long. It also flowers later, usually in June.
For the hybrids of R. minus, see p. 834.
R. carolianinum was separated from R. minus by Rehder in 1912; for the distinguishing characters he gave, see under R. carolinianum (page 623). But according to Duncan & Pullen, in an overlooked paper published in Brittonia, Vol. 14, p. 297 (1962), these differences do not hold good when a wide range of specimens is examined.
The merger means that R. minus becomes a very variable species horticulturally, but this is true also of the plants that have hitherto been grown under one or the other name, so there might be difficulty in defining a Carolinianum group.
var. chapmanii (A. Gray) Duncan & Pullen R. chapmanii A. Gray – See under R. carolinianum, page 624. Another difference is that the wild plants have erect, rigid branches.