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Erect much-branched shub, to 1.5 m. Leaves 0.6-1.5 x 0.3-0.9 cm, ovate to oblong-elliptic, apex obtuse, base widening gradually from petiole, lower surface covered with uniformly straw-coloured or golden brown touching scales the centres of which are pale. Flowers 1(-2) per inflorescence; calyx 3-5 mm, lobes broadly rounded; corolla pale purple or yellow, funnel-shaped, 14-19 mm; stamens 10, equalling the corolla; ovary scaly, style exceeding the stamens, slightly pubescent and with some scales at base. Flowering April-May. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
Distribution China NW Sichuan
Habitat 3,300-4,900 m
Conservation status Least concern (LC)
Taxonomic note The yellow-flowered var. yulongense N.M.Philipson & Philipson is probably not in cultivation. This species is allied to R. nitidulum (q.v.) and R. hippophaeoides. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
An evergreen shrub up to 3 ft high, with erect branches and young shoots densely covered with glistening, yellowish-grey scales. Leaves ovate to elliptical, blunt-ended, 1⁄4 to 3⁄4 in. long, half as wide; dark green and scaly above, thickly covered beneath with yellowish-grey scales. Flowers usually solitary, rarely in pairs or threes. Calyx deeply five-lobed, the lobes about 1⁄8 in. long, oval, scaly down the centre, fringed with hairs. Corolla rosy-purple, about 1 in. wide, with a short tube (hairy inside) and five rounded oval lobes 3⁄8 in. long, not scaly. Stamens ten, downy close to the base; anthers yellowish. Ovary scaly, conical, 1⁄12 in. long; style glabrous or sometimes slightly scaly or downy towards the base, slightly longer than the stamens. (s. Lapponicum)
Native of W. Szechwan at altitudes of up to 15,000 ft; introduced by Wilson in 1908. It is a perfectly hardy species of no special merit, now uncommon in cultivation.
† R. nitidulum Rehd. & Wils. – Another of Wilson’s discoveries in western Szechwan, this is closely allied to R. websterianum, which it resembles in having scales on the undersides of the leaves that are all of the same pale colouring, in the few-flowered inflorescences and well-developed calyces. The chief difference is that the scales have glistening, gland-like centres – a characteristic to which the epithet nitidulum refers. Whether it was successfully introduced by Wilson it is impossible to say, but plants are now in cultivation at Wakehurst Place and elsewhere raised from seeds collected by Keith Rushforth near the summit of Mount Omei (Emei Shan) in 1980. The plants in this locality differ slightly from the type and have been distinguished by the Philipsons as var. omeiense (Rev. Lapp., p. 24).
† R. minyaense Philipson & Philipson R. fastigiatum sens. Rehd. & Wils., not Franch. – Allied to R. websterianum and R. nitidulum and coming from the same area, this species was described in 1975 from a specimen collected by Rock south of Kangding (Tatsien-lu) in the Minya Konka range. In the authors’ words ‘it is evidently a handsome sturdy shrub with dense branching and a profusion of flowers displayed on the surface of the bush’ (Rev. Lapp., p. 46). It is not yet in cultivation.