Shrub, to 2 m; young shoots purplish, puberulous, leaf bud scales persistent. Leaves to 35 × 15 mm, ovate to elliptic, apex more or less acute, lower surface with sparse large golden scales. Pedicels sparsely scaly, puberulous. Flowers 4–6 per inflorescence; calyx minute; corolla white with many reddish flecks, open-funnel-shaped, 15–25 mm; stamens 10, decimate; ovary scaly, also puberulent towards apex, style straight, glabrous or sparsely pilose at base. Flowering June-July. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
Distribution China W Sichuan
Habitat c.3,300 m
RHS Hardiness Rating H6
Conservation status Vulnerable (VU)
Taxonomic note This species is allied to R.heliolepis. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
An evergreen shrub 3 to 6 ft high; young shoots not downy, bearing below the leaves proper linear ‘bracts’ (really depauperate leaves) 1⁄4 to 5⁄8 in. long, some of which persist to the second or even third year. Leaves oval with a tendency to ovate or oblong, rounded at the base, terminated by a short mucro, 3⁄4 to 2 in. long by about half as much wide; dark green and thinly-scaly above, paler and more scaly beneath; stalk 1⁄6 to 1⁄4 in. long. Flowers borne three to six in a cluster, the corolla about 1 in. wide, white, strongly blotched and dotted with deep wine red, bell-shaped at the base, the five lobes spread out widely; stamens ten, the lower half hairy; ovary very scaly; style almost or quite glabrous; calyx small, unequally lobed; flower-stalks 1⁄2 to 1 in. long. Bot. Mag., t. 9031. (s. Heliolepis)
Native of W. Szechwan, China; introduced in 1908 by Wilson. He and Rehder considered it to be most closely related to R. yanthinum (concinnum), while later authorities in classification associate it with R. oreotrephes, but to neither of them does it bear much resemblance in general appearance when in bloom. It is now placed in the Heliolepis series. The figure in the Botanical Magazine was made from a plant growing at Caerhays in Cornwall, where it flowers about mid-June. The crushed leaves have a curious odour resembling that of black currants; this, with the persistent ‘bracts’ mentioned above, make the species easily recognised. The flowers are not large but they are daintily pretty.