Shrub, 1.2-4.5 m. Leaves 4-14.5 x 1-6.5 cm, elliptic to ovate-oblong, apex acute to apiculate, lower surface covered with a one-layered compacted or felted, sometimes agglutinated, brown indumentum composed of radiate to sub-ramiform hairs; petioles floccose. Flowers 8-15, in a dense truss; calyx c.1 mm; corolla white flushed pink, with crimson flecks, funnel-campanulate, nectar pouches lacking; ovary glabrous or with a few papillate hairs, style glabrous. Flowering April-May. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
Distribution China S Tibet, NW Yunnan, SW & C Sichuan
Habitat 3,350-4,200 m
RHS Hardiness Rating H5
Conservation status Least concern (LC)
This species is treated as follows in the Edinburgh revision:
R alutaceum Balf.f. & Forr
Near to R. phaeochrysum
, the main key-difference being the relatively narrower leaves, 2 to 63
in. long and 1 to 15
in. wide (length:breadth ratio 2.2-6:1 against 1.7-3(4):1 in R. phaeochrysum
) (Rev. 2, p. 337). There are two varieties apart from the typical one, not clearly demarcated from each other:
R traillianum Forr. & W.W. Sm
This species is allied to the preceding two, though clearly distinct in having a ‘powdery’ indumentum composed of a single layer of short- or long-rayed rust-coloured hairs. Bot. Mag.
, t.8900. A native of west Yunnan and south-west Szechwan, described from a specimen collected by Forrest in the Lichiang range.
var. agglutinatum (Balf.f. & Forr.) Chamberlain
R. agglutinatum Balf.f. & Forr.
R. dumulosum Balf.f. & Forr
Like the preceding, but the indumentum agglutinated, often splitting.The species as a whole is of wide distribution in the less rainy parts of the Sino-Himalayan region, from western Szechwan through north-west Yunnan to south Tibet. It may have been introduced by Wilson, as R. taliense
, when collecting for Veitch, but most cultivated plants are from later sendings by Forrest and by Rock (although some in Sweden are from seed collected by Harry Smith in the area of Kangding (Tatsien-lu), grown as R. cuprescens
R. glohigerum Balf.f. & Forr.
R. roxieanum var. globigerum (Balf.f. & Forr.) Chamberlain
Indumentum woolly, pale brown.
var. dictyotum (Tagg) Chamberlain
R. dictyotum Tagg
This replaces var. traillianum
in north-west Yunnan. The indumentum resembles that of var. traillianum
, though the component hairs are slightly different (Rev. 2, p. 354).All these species and their varieties are worthy of cultivation, if they can be obtained, with attractive, though not showy, dense trusses of white or pink-tinted, spotted flowers, borne mostly in April. They are of interest as representing a type of rhododendron that is very common in the wild.
var. iodes (Balf.f. & Forr.) Chamberlain
R. iodes Balf.f. & Forr
Indumentum with a brown, felted upper layer.
var. levistratum (Balf.f. & Forr.) Chamberlain
Syns: all those given under the heading R. dryophyllum
on page 651. This variety is what was described as typical R. dryophyllum
on that page. It differs from var. phaeochrysum
only in its shorter leaves and smaller flowers.
R. dryophyllum Balf.f. & Forr. (type only)
R. cuprescens Nitzelius
The leading characters of this, the typical variety, are: leaves not bullate above, 3 to 51
in. long, elliptic to ovate-oblong, with a brown, densely felted, sometimes agglutinated tomentum beneath. Inflorescence rachis about 1
in. long. Calyx very small. Corolla funnel-campanulate, white flushed pink, with crimson markings in the throat, up to 2 in. long. Ovary glabrous or almost so. See further on page 652.
var. russotinctum (Balf.f. & Forr.) Chamberlain
R. russotinctum Balf.f. & Forr.
R. triplonaevium and R. tritifolium Balf.f. & Forr
Indumentum rust-coloured, not woolly, the upper layer discontinuous.