Shrub, 1.5-2.5m. Leaves coriaceous, 3-6 × 1.1-2.2cm, elliptic, apex acute, margin strongly recurved, lower surface glabrous though with persistent red punctate hair bases overlying the veins. Flowers 6-12, in a lax truss, white to pale rose, with purple flecks, open-campanulate, lacking nectar pouches, 28-35mm, ovary and style stalked-glandular. Flowering April-May. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
Distribution China N Yunnan, Guizhou
Habitat 2,200-2,500 m
Awards AM 1945 (Crown Estate Commissioners, Windsor) to a clone 'His Lordship', from McLaren T.41; flowers white with crimson dashes.
Conservation status Not evaluated (NE)
Taxonomic note A distinctive species allied to R. annae and R. araiophyllum Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
An evergreen shrub up to 8 ft high; young stems floccose and sparsely glandular. Leaves very brittle, rather convex above, 11⁄2 to 3 in. long, 1⁄2 to 13⁄8 in. wide, oblong, oblong-elliptic, or narrow-ovate, acute to obtuse at the apex, rounded to broad-cuneate at the base, glabrous on both sides when mature, midrib deeply impressed above, prominent beneath; stalk up to 1⁄2 in. long, glandular, and minutely downy. Flowers borne May or June in a more or less racemose truss of six to twelve; rachis minutely downy and glandular, varying much in length and up to 2 in. long; stalks 5⁄8 to 17⁄8 in. long, glandular and downy. Calyx small, glandular at the margin. Corolla five-lobed, saucer-shaped, 2 to 3 in. wide, white or white tinged with pink, usually more or less spotted with crimson. Stamens ten, glabrous. Ovary densely glandular; style glandular to the tip.
Native of E. Yunnan; discovered and introduced by Chinese collectors trained by George Forrest, who after his death in 1932 were employed for several seasons by the first Lord Aberconway to continue his work. The seed was sent in 1937, and from it plants were raised in several gardens. It was described in 1948.
R. aberconwayi is unlike any other known rhododendron but probably best placed in the Irroratum series. It is variable in the size and colouring of its flowers but a very fine rhododendron at its best, and perfectly hardy. It needs a fairly sunny position. Shown by the Crown Estate Commissioners, Windsor Great Park, it received an Award of Merit in 1945, as an unnamed species of the Irroratum series.