Rhododendron campylogynum Franch.

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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 campylogynum' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/rhododendron/rhododendron-campylogynum/). Accessed 2024-05-27.



  • Rhododendron damascenum Balf. f. & Farr.
  • Rhododendron glauco-aureum Balf. f. & Forr.

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.
Traditional English name for the formerly independent state known to its people as Bod now the Tibet (Xizang) Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China. The name Xizang is used in lists of Chinese provinces.
(pl. apices) Tip. apical At the apex.
Organism arising via vegetative or asexual reproduction.
The inner whorl of the perianth. Composed of free or united petals often showy.
Lacking hairs smooth. glabrescent Becoming hairless.
Bearing glands.
Grey-blue often from superficial layer of wax (bloom).
Short straight point. mucronate Bearing a mucro.
Generally an elongated structure arising from the ovary bearing the stigma at its tip.
(subsp.) Taxonomic rank for a group of organisms showing the principal characters of a species but with significant definable morphological differentiation. A subspecies occurs in populations that can occupy a distinct geographical range or habitat.


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

Recommended citation
'Rhododendron campylogynum' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/rhododendron/rhododendron-campylogynum/). Accessed 2024-05-27.

Dwarf prostrate shrub, to 0.6(-l) m; young shoots sparsely scaly, glabrous or pubescent. Leaves (1–)1.4–2.5(–3.5) × (0.4–)0.7–1.2 cm, apex obtuse to (rarely) subacute, upper surface pubescent along midrib; lower surface whitish- or silvery-papillose, glabrous but with scattered deciduous vesicular scales. Pedicels 25–50 mm, elongating to 75 mm in fruit, sparsely scaly and pubescent. Flowers 1–2(–3)-flowered; calyx lobes usually 4–7 mm, oblong or obovate; corolla pink to red or purple, pruinose, campanulate, (10–)13–20(–23) mm, tube glabrous outside, sparsely pubescent within; stamens 10; ovary sparsely scaly, impressed below the sharply deflexed style. Flowering May-June. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)

Distribution  Myanmar NE China S Tibet, Yunnan India Arunachal Pradesh

Habitat 2,750–4,250(–4,900) m

RHS Hardiness Rating H5

Awards AM 1973 (Capt. c. Ingram, Benenden, Kent) to a clone 'Baby Mouse'; flowers deep plum purple. AM 1971 (Crown Estate Commissioners, Windsor) to a clone 'Bodnant Red', as var. cremastum; flowers greyed-purple. AM 1966 (Capt. c. Ingram, Benenden, Kent) to a clone 'Thimble', as var. cremastum; flowers salmon pink. AM 1925 (L. de Rothschild, Exbury) as var. myrtilloides. FCC 1943 (E. de Rothschild, Exbury) as var. myrtilloides; flowers Magenta Rose. AMs have been awarded to the clones 'Leucanthum' and 'Beryl Taylor'; both are now considered to be hybrids of R. campylogynum.

Conservation status Least concern (LC)

Taxonomic note A distinct species, assigned to its own subsection. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)

A usually dwarf, evergreen shrub of densely branched, close growth; young shoots thinly scaly. Leaves obovate, tapered at the base, rounded but with a short mucro at the apex; margins recurved and crinkled, 13 to 1 in. long, 18 to 12 in. wide, dark bright green and glabrous above, pale green or slightly glaucous beneath and slightly scaly at first; stalk 110 in. long. Flowers solitary or in twos or threes at the end of the shoot, nodding, each produced on a slender, slightly scaly stalk 1 to 112 in. long. Calyx five-lobed; the lobes 15 in. long, glabrous. Corolla of various shades of purple from rosy to plum-coloured or almost black purple, widely bell-shaped, 58 in. long, five-lobed, the lobes rounded and scarcely recurved. Stamens ten (sometimes eight or twelve), downy and widened towards the base; anthers yellowish brown. Ovary glandular-scaly; style glabrous, purple, decurved so as to protrude between the lower lobes of the corolla. Bot. Mag., t. 9407A. (s. Campylogynum)

R. campylogynum ranges throughout the rainiest part of the Sino-Himalayan region, from the Tali range and the Mekong-Salween divide in the east through upper Burma to the eastern Himalaya, at altitudes of 11,000 to 15,000 ft (rarely lower). It is therefore one of the most alpine of rhododendrons. It was discovered by the Abbé Delavay in 1884 in the Tali range, whence it was introduced by Forrest in 1912. In the following year Kingdon Ward collected seeds near one of the glaciers of the Ka-kar-po group, on the borders between Yunnan and Tibet. The plants there ‘appeared to have black or deep plum-coloured flowers. When, however, the sun shone through them, the flowers were seen to be blood-red, which is how they would appear to their bee-visitors, since the flowers stand horizontally’ (Mystery Rivers of Tibet, p. 75).

This pleasing species flowers in May and is admirable for the rock garden by reason of its neat habit and rich purple flowers. In some forms, however, the flowers are purplish pink or flesh-pink. In the clone named ‘Thimble’, they are salmon-pink (Award of Merit, May 23, 1966, when shown by Capt. Collingwood Ingram, The Grange, Benenden, Kent).

A white-flowered form of R. campylogynum, grown by Capt. Collingwood Ingram at Benenden, Kent, received an Award of Merit when he exhibited it on June 12, 1973. He has given it botanical status as var. leucanthum (R.C.Y.B. 1969, p. 49) and it received the award under that name.

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

Dr Cullen recognises no subspecies or varieties in this species, on the grounds that the variations it shows are not correlated nor ‘geographically significant’ (Rev. 1, pp. 145–6). The varieties previously recognised could, however, be maintained as horticultural groups (see Peter Cox, op. cit., p. 88).

var. celsum Davidian

Of erect habit. Found by Forrest in the Tali range, Yunnan, growing 4 to 6 ft high.

var. charopoeum (Balf. f. & Farrer) Davidian

R. charopoeum Balf. f. & Farrer
R. caeruleo-glaucum Balf. f. & Forr

Flowers larger, up to 1 in. long. Introduced by Forrest.

var. cremastum (Balf. f. & Forr.) Davidian

R. cremastum Balf. f. & Forr

Of erect habit, up to 4 ft high in the wild, with larger leaves up to 1{1/2} in. long, pale green on both surfaces. Discovered and introduced by Forrest. Award of Merit May 24 1971, to clone ‘Bodnant Red’.

var. myrtilloides (Balf. f. & Ward) Davidian

R. myrtilloides Balf. f. & Ward

Of dwarfer habit, with smaller flowers up to {1/2} in. or so long. This variety was discovered by Kingdon Ward in 1914 in upper Burma, on a spur of Imaw Bum at about 13,000 ft (not 15,000 ft as is sometimes stated). Most of the plants originally grown as R. myrtilloides were raised from three batches of seed collected in the same area in 1919. KW 3172 was from plants growing in a riverbed under Imaw Bum at 8,000 ft, growing in ‘heath-like masses on slaty rocks’ and with plum-coloured flowers. Apparently all the seed came from one plant; twenty years later he found it again during the Vernay-Cutting expedition and again took seed from it. He also collected seed on Imaw Bum itself at 12,000–13,000 ft, from plants with port-wine-coloured or flesh-pink flowers (KW 3303). The third collection was by Farrer and Cox from the Hpimaw ridge a short way south of Kingdon Ward’s hunting-ground, at around 12,000 ft (Farrer 1046). ‘Imagine yard upon yard of turf cushioned with masses of small, shining, dark-green leaves, out of which rise delicate glandular flower-stalks. From each hangs a single little bell-shaped trumpet of sculptured wax, a deep mahogany inside and a claret exterior that is covered with the bloom of a purple plum. There is another form, a uniform claret-mahogany inside and out’ (Cox, Farrers Last Journey, p. 98). Kingdon Ward later collected seed at the eastern end of the Himalaya (KW 5842, nicknamed by him “Plum Warner”), but the plants under this number were originally grown as typical R. campylogynum.As a rock-garden plant the var. myrtilloides has all the virtues of the type, except that it has the reputation of being rather more difficult to cultivate well, at least in the Burmese forms originally introduced. It received an Award of Merit on June 6, 1925 (a pink-flowered form raised at Exbury from KW 3172) and a First Class Certificate on June 8, 1945 (a form with rose-magenta flowers, also from Exbury).Other varieties recognised by Davidian are: