Rhododendron xanthostephanum Merrill

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Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles

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'Rhododendron xanthostephanum' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/rhododendron/rhododendron-xanthostephanum/). Accessed 2020-09-23.



  • Rhododendron aureum Franch., not Georgi


Other species in genus


(pl. calyces) Outer whorl of the perianth. Composed of several sepals.
The inner whorl of the perianth. Composed of free or united petals often showy.
Lowest part of the carpel containing the ovules; later developing into the fruit.
Traditional English name for the formerly independent state known to its people as Bod now the Tibet (Xizang) Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China. The name Xizang is used in lists of Chinese provinces.
Organism arising via vegetative or asexual reproduction.
The inner whorl of the perianth. Composed of free or united petals often showy.
Lacking hairs smooth. glabrescent Becoming hairless.
Grey-blue often from superficial layer of wax (bloom).
Lance-shaped; broadest in middle tapering to point.
Egg-shaped; broadest towards the stem.
Generally an elongated structure arising from the ovary bearing the stigma at its tip.


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Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles

Recommended citation
'Rhododendron xanthostephanum' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/rhododendron/rhododendron-xanthostephanum/). Accessed 2020-09-23.

Shrub, 0.6-2 m; mature bark smooth, reddish brown. Leaves 5-8(-10.5) x 1.5-2.5(-3) cm, narrowly elliptic to oblong, apex acute, upper surface brownish green, lower surface silvery-papillose, scales unequal, their own diameter apart, borne in pits, the larger stalked. Flowers (3-)4-5, in a terminal inflorescence that has a rhachis 1-5 mm long; calyx lobes (2-)5-7 mm, erect or spreading, not ciliate; corolla deep yellow, sometimes almost yellow-orange, narrowly campanulate, 18-28 mm, outer surface scaly, sometimes slightly pubescent; stamens 10; ovary scaly, tapering into the declinate style that is scaly at base. Flowering April-May. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)

Distribution  Myanmar N China Yunnan, SE Tibet India Arunachal Pradesh

Habitat 1,600-3,000(-3,900) m

RHS Hardiness Rating H3

Awards AM 1961 (Crown Estate Commissioners, Windsor) to a clone 'Yellow Garland', from Forrest 21707/ 22652; flowers Aureolin.

Conservation status Least concern (LC)

Taxonomic note This is a rare species in cultivation as it is tender. It is closely allied to R. auritum (q.v.). Royal Horticultural Society (1997)

An evergreen shrub 4 ft and upwards high; young shoots sprinkled with scales. Leaves ovate-lanceolate to oblong-lanceolate, usually pointed, tapered at the base, 112 to 312 in. long, 38 to 118 in. wide, dark glossy green and soon glabrous above, glaucous and closely pitted with tiny glistening scales beneath; stalks 14 to 12 in. long. Flowers opening in May in clusters usually of three to five. Calyx deeply five-lobed, the lobes rounded, more or less scaly like the flower-stalk which is 14 to 12 in. long. Corolla funnel-shaped, about 1 in. long, five-lobed, scaly outside, of varying shades of yellow (rich, bright, or tinged with green). Stamens ten, rather longer than the corolla, downy at the base. Ovary densely scaly as is the style also towards the base. Bot. Mag., t. 8882. (s. Boothii ss. Tephropeplum)

Native of Yunnan and the Tsarong province of S.E. Tibet westward through upper Burma to the eastern end of the Himalaya; discovered by Delavay about 1886 in the Tali range, Yunnan; introduced by Forrest in 1910. It occurs at mostly 8,000 to 11,000 ft, in thickets on rocky slopes and cliffs or at the edge of torrents. As a rule it is a bushy shrub in the wild up to 6 ft high, but Kingdon Ward found it 15 ft high in the gorge of the Taron (Kiuchiang). It is allied to R. tephropeplum, differing in the colour of its flowers. In R. sulfureum of the Boothii subseries the flowers are yellow but they are wider and the style is bent, whereas in R. xanthostephanum it is straight. It is a rather tender species, needing a sheltered position.

The Award of Merit was given on May 15, 1961, to clone ‘Yellow Garland’, exhibited by the Crown Estate Commissioners, Windsor Great Park. This was raised from Forrest 21707, collected on the Salween-Kiuchiang divide in 1922.

R auritum Tagg

Near to R. xanthostephanum, but flowers creamy white, slightly tinged with pink and calyx-lobes strongly reflexed. It was described in 1934 from a garden plant raised from Kingdon Ward’s seed no. 6278, collected ‘blind’ in November 1924, during his exploration of the Tsangpo gorge at the eastern end of the Himalaya, and was reintroduced from the same locality by Ludlow, Sherriff, and Elliot in 1946-7. Kingdon Ward’s field note reads: ‘Shrub of 6-10 ft semi-erect, the branches flopping over unless supported, forming a thick bush. Bark peeling, exposing a smooth copper-red stem. Truss 5-7 flowered. Abundant on gneiss cliffs and boulders in open situations along the river bank….’ It is hardy in mid-Sussex, but not of much beauty.


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