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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
'Rhododendron brachycarpum' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.
Shrub, 2–3 m; young shoots tomentose, soon glabrescent; bud scales deciduous. Leaves 7–11 × 3–4.5 cm, oblong to obovate, apex more or less rounded, apiculate, lower surface glabrous or with a thin compacted greyish to fawn indumentum composed of dendroid hairs when mature. Flowers 10–20, in a dense truss; calyx c.2 mm; corolla white or pale rose-pink, with greenish flecks, broadly funnel-campanulate, nectar pouches lacking, c.25 mm; ovary densely tomentose. Flowering June-July. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
Distribution Japan North Korea South Korea
Habitat to at least 2,500 m
RHS Hardiness Rating H6
Conservation status Least concern (LC)
A robust evergreen shrub 6 to 10 ft high; young shoots downy. Leaves narrowly oblong, 4 or 5 in. long, 11⁄2 to 13⁄4 in. wide; with a short, abrupt tip and a rounded base; upper surface glabrous, the lower one more or less felted; stalk 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. long, very stout. Flowers creamy white, flushed with pink, or yellowish, up to twenty in a rounded cluster 4 to 6 in. across; rachis up to 11⁄4 in. long, lengthening in fruit; pedicels up to 11⁄4 in. long, downy. Calyx-lobes five, shallow. Corolla 2 in. across, broadly funnel-shaped, five-lobed, the lobes broad and rounded, emarginate, the three upper ones spotted with brownish or greenish yellow. Stamens ten, hairy at the base. Ovary covered with brown down; style glabrous. Bot. Mag., t. 7881.
Native of Japan at subalpine elevations, descending to near sea-level in Hokkaido; also of the Kuriles and, in the broad sense, of Korea; introduced to Britain towards the end of the last century. It is a very hardy shrub and for that reason valued in regions too cold for most of the species whose hardiness in the British Isles is taken for granted. It is at present placed in the Ponticum series, subseries Caucasicum – a very artificial grouping. Dr Cowan pointed out that the hairs composing its leaf-indumentum closely resemble those of the Lacteum series.
subsp. tigerstedtii Nitzelius – This Korean race is more robust than the Japanese, with stouter stems, larger leaves 6 to 10 in. long, 2 to 33⁄4 in. wide. The flowers are white, with greenish spotting, up to nearly 3 in. wide, the calyx is more developed and the fruit-stalks are longer (11⁄4 to 2 in. long, against 3⁄4 to 11⁄4 in. long in the Japanese plants). This subspecies was named by T. Nitzelius in honour of Mr Tigerstedt, who introduced it to his famous Mustila Arboretum in southern Finland from the Kongosan in central Korea (Deutsche Baumschule, July 1970, pp. 207–12). Plants in Britain raised from seeds collected by Wilson in Korea may belong here.
Although R. fauriei has usually been treated as synonymous with R. brachycarpum, it is recognised in the Edinburgh revision:
subsp. fauriei (Franch.) Chamberlain – Differing from the typical state in having the leaves glabrous beneath when mature. It occurs in both Korea and Japan, as does the typical subspecies.
Dr Chamberlain doubts whether subsp. tigerstedtii (page 612) is distinct enough to merit separate recognition.
This species definitely belongs to subsect. Pontica.
Leaves with a persistent indumentum beneath.
Distribution Japan, N Korea.
R. fauriei Franch.
Leaves glabrous beneath when mature. Japan, Eastern Korea. Apart from the relative persistence or the leaf indumentum there are no significant differences between the two taxa recognized here. A form with leaves 15–25cm long and flowers up to 70mm in diameter has been called var. tigerstedtii. Since the only differences between this and subsp. brachycarpum are in the size of its leaves and flowers this entity is not formally maintained here.
Taxonomic note (R. fauriei Franch.)
A very hardy species that will stand winter cold well.