Rhododendron aberconwayi Cowan

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Peter Norris, enabling the use of The Rhododendron Handbook 1998


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

Recommended citation
'Rhododendron aberconwayi' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/rhododendron/rhododendron-aberconwayi/). Accessed 2024-05-28.

Other taxa 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.
Sharply pointed.
(pl. apices) Tip. apical At the apex.
Having a rounded surface.
A group of genera more closely related to each other than to genera in other families. Names of families are identified by the suffix ‘-aceae’ (e.g. Myrtaceae) with a few traditional exceptions (e.g. Leguminosae).
Lacking hairs smooth. glabrescent Becoming hairless.
Bearing glands.
midveinCentral and principal vein in a leaf.
Egg-shaped; broadest towards the stem.
Central axis of an inflorescence cone or pinnate leaf.
Generally an elongated structure arising from the ovary bearing the stigma at its tip.


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

Recommended citation
'Rhododendron aberconwayi' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/rhododendron/rhododendron-aberconwayi/). Accessed 2024-05-28.

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, 112 to 3 in. long, 12 to 138 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 12 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 58 to 178 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 (reognised by the collector code McL,in reference to the Aberconway family name MacLaren). 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.