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Shrub, 1.4.5 m. Leaves 5-12 x 1.5-4 cm, oblanceolate to broadly elliptic, apex apiculate, upper surface with deeply impressed veins so appearing bullate, lower surface with dense one-layered brown to rust-red indumentum composed of fasciculate to ramiform hairs; petioles tomentose at first, soon glabrescent. Flowers c.10, in a dense truss; calyx c.1 mm; corolla white to pink, with red flecks, campanulate, nectar pouches absent, 30-40 mm; ovary densely rust-red lanate tomentose, eglandular, style glabrous or hairy at base. Flowering April-May. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
Distribution China C Sichuan, Guizhou
Habitat 2,250-3,500 m
RHS Hardiness Rating H5
Awards AM 1957 (E. de Rothschild, Exbury); flowers white, with a dark crimson blotch in throat, flushed pink externally.
Conservation status Least concern (LC)
Taxonomic note A distinctive species on account of its bullate leaves. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
An evergreen shrub 5 to 12 ft high; young shoots clothed with a thick, brown wool. Leaves obovate, tapered at the base, abruptly narrowed at the apex to a short tip, 2 to 4 in. long, 3⁄4 to 11⁄4 in. wide, glossy green and deeply wrinkled above, thickly clothed beneath with brown wool; stalk about 1⁄2 in long. Flowers in clusters of about ten in April or May, on woolly pedicels up to 1 in. long. Corolla white or pink, speckled or blotched inside with crimson, bell-shaped, 11⁄4 in. deep, rather more wide, the five lobes almost erect. Stamens ten, shorter than the corolla, downy towards the base. Ovary covered with pale brown wool; style quite glabrous. Bot. Mag., t. 9388. (s. Taliense ss. Wasonii)
Native of W. Szechwan, known from Mt Omei, the Washan, and the Mupin region; discovered by Wilson and introduced by him in 1904, for Messrs Veitch, and also cultivated from his no. 4264, collected during his second expedition for the Arnold Arboretum. With its striking leaves, on which the line of every vein is deeply etched, it is one of the most easily recognised of all rhododendrons. It is worth growing for these alone, but is also attractive in its flowers. It received an Award of Merit when shown by Edmund de Rothschild, Exbury, on March 30, 1957 (flowers white with a crimson blotch, flushed with pink on the outside).