Shrub, often epiphytic, to 2 m; young shoots scaly. Leaves (5.3–)6–0–10.5 × (1.6–)2–3(–3.7) cm, narrowly elliptic to oblong-elliptic, apex bluntly acute, lower surface densely covered with almost touching broadly rimmed brown scales, a few of which are darker than the rest. Pedicels densely scaly. Flowers 1–2 per inflorescence; calyx lobes 5–8 mm, oblong; corolla white to deep rose, open-campanulate, 14–18(–20) mm, scaly outside, villose within; stamens 11–16; ovary with 5–10 cells, scaly, tapering into the short sharply deflexed style. Flowering May-June. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
Distribution Bhutan India Sikkim Nepal
Habitat 2,750–3,650 m
RHS Hardiness Rating H5
Conservation status Least concern (LC)
Taxonomic note This species, the only member of its subsection, is distantly allied to species in Subsect. Boothia but is clearly distinct in its 12–16 stamens and multi-celled ovary, characters that suggest an affinity with Subsect. Maddenia. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
An evergreen shrub up to 6 ft high, of sparse straggling habit, often growing wild on the trunks and forks of trees; young shoots very scaly. Leaves oblong-lanceolate, pointed, 21⁄2 to 4 in. long, 3⁄4 to 11⁄2 in. wide, dark green above; almost covered with brown glistening scales beneath, between which, however, the glaucous surface of the leaf is visible; stalk 1⁄4 to 3⁄8 in. long. Flowers produced in July, usually in pairs. Corolla 11⁄2 in. wide, white tinged with rose, the base broadly bell-shaped; lobes five, rounded, overlapping, scaly outside. Stamens twelve to sixteen, downy towards but not at the broadened base. Ovary scaly; style 5⁄8 in. long, with a broad thick stigma; glabrous except for a few scales near the ovary. Calyx 1⁄4 in. long, scaly at the base, the lobes deep, oval, rounded at the end. Flower-stalk 1⁄4 in. long. Bot. Mag., t. 4932. (s. Camelliiflorum)
Native of the Himalaya from E. Nepal to Bhutan, to 10,000 ft altitude. It was discovered in Sikkim by J. D. Hooker and introduced in 1851 to Kew. It is quite uncommon, which is no matter for great regret, for it is one of the least ornamental and most difficult of rhododendrons.