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A shrub up to 8 ft high in the wild, but often half that height or less; branches armed with straight, slender yellowish prickles abruptly widened at the base, up to 1⁄2 in. long; on strong shoots the prickles may be very densely arranged and variable in size, though all of essentially the same form, the largest with enlarged, pad-like bases; flowering branchlets unarmed or with prickles like those of the branches, but shorter. Leaves 1 to 3 in. long, with five to nine leaflets; rachis glandular or not, usually unarmed. Leaflets broadly elliptic, obovate or roundish, 3⁄8 to 1 in. long, obtuse or truncate at the apex, cuneate to rounded at the base, simply toothed, usually entire in the lower third, somewhat glaucous above, pale and glabrous or slightly downy beneath. Flowers solitary on short laterals in May, 11⁄2 to 2 in. wide, pale pink or white, or sometimes white in the centre shading to pink at the margin. Pedicels 3⁄8 to 1⁄2 in. long, sometimes slightly longer, they and the receptacles smooth or glandular-bristly. Sepals entire, glandular on the back, sometimes expanded at the apex. Fruits pitcher-shaped or globular, constricted at the apex, bright red, crowned by the persistent sepals.
Native of the central and western Himalaya, where it seems to be mainly confined to the drier inner valleys; also of Afghanistan, Tibet and parts of Russian Central Asia; the earliest recorded introduction to Kew was from Ladakh in 1879. The true species seems to be rare in cultivation (1979); see also R. sertata below.
R. webbiana sens . Boulenger, in part
R. nanothamnus Boulenger