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Erect low shrub, to 1.2 m. Leaves (0.4-)0.8-2 x 0.2-0.6(-0.8) cm, narrowly elliptic to elliptic, acute or obtuse, obscurely mucronulate, lower surface covered with uniformly reddish brown scales that are either, not touching, or in groups touching one another. Flowers to 5 per inflorescence; calyx obsolete to 2.5 mm, lobes sometimes unequal, deltoid to rounded; corolla lavender to rich purple-blue, rarely white, broadly funnel-shaped, 8-13 mm; stamens 10, as long as the corolla; ovary scaly, style longer than the stamens, glabrous or pubescent towards the base. Flowering April-May. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
Distribution China Yunnan
Habitat 3,000-4,300 m
RHS Hardiness Rating H5
Awards AM 1924 (Lady Aberconway and Hon. H.D. McLaren, Bodnant); flowers purplish rose. FCC 1934 (L. de Rothschild, Exbury) to a clone 'Policy'; flowers lavender blue. AGM 1993, to a clone 'Policy'.
Conservation status Vulnerable (VU)
Taxonomic note R. polycladum is probably allied to R. impeditum but differs in the shorter calyx, etc. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
This is treated under the name R. scintillans on page 765. The change of name has been made on grounds of priority and is not the result of taxonomic judgement. The types of the two species were in fact collected in the same locality. But the type-specimen of R. polycladum (Delavay 267 bis) was mounted in the Paris Herbarium on the same sheet as a specimen of R. fastigiatum and it seems to have been assumed by later botanists that the two specimens represented the same species (Rev. Lapp., p. 43).
R. compactum, described from a plant raised at Headfort from Forrest’s seeds, is a form of R. scintillans in which the inflorescences are produced from the axillary buds as well as from the terminal one, forming a large compound inflorescence. Similar plants have been raised from F.25555.