Kindly sponsored by
Peter Norris, enabling the use of The Rhododendron Handbook 1998
New article for Trees and Shrubs Online.
'Rhododendron atropurpureum' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.
Shrub to 3 m, terrestrial, young stems densely covered with substellate, short-stalked rusty coloured scales and short papillose hairs. Leaves 1.7-3 x 1.5-2.2 cm, broadly elliptic to ovate-elliptic, apex obtuse to rounded sometimes with a protruding apical gland, margin slightly cartilaginous, and crenulate, flat, base rounded to slightly cordate; upper surface silvery scaly when young, quickly becoming glabrescent, midrib impressed often reddish brown and more persistently scaly than the lamina, lateral veins 3-4 pairs slightly impressed; lower surface with the midrib strongly raised beneath for the whole of the length of the leaf, lateral veins slightly raised, scales small with an irregular membranous marginal zone which quickly disappears leaving the thick, blackish red, impressed central portions. Flowers 2-3 per umbel half-hanging to hanging, calyx a low scaly, 5-lobed ring; corolla dark red, tubular-funnel-shaped, curved, 3.5-5 x 3-4 cm, densely covered with substellate scales outside; stamens 10, grouped on the upper side of the flower; ovary densely substellate scaly, the style scaly in the lower third, glabrous above. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
Distribution Papua New Guinea Eastern and Western Highlands Provinces
Habitat 3,500-3,800 m
RHS Hardiness Rating H2
A characteristic species on the upper slopes of Mt Wilhelm and frequently collected there. It is doubtful if it persists long in cultivation although it quite commonly appears on lists of species. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)