Kindly sponsored by
Peter Norris, enabling the use of The Rhododendron Handbook 1998
Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles
'Rhododendron coelicum' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.
Shrub, 1.3-3 m. Leaves 8-10 x 4.2-5.5 cm, obovate; lower surface covered with a fulvous tomentum, composed of dendroid hairs; petioles sparsely covered with shortly stalked glands. Flowers c.10, in a tight truss; calyx 5-7 mm; corolla fleshy, crimson, tubular-campanulate, with nectar pouches, 38-45 mm; ovary covered with shortly stalked glands, abruptly contracted into the glabrous style. Flowering April-May. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
Distribution Myanmar NE China W Yunnan
Habitat 2,750-4,400 m
RHS Hardiness Rating H6
Awards AM 1955 (Col Lord Digby, Minterne, Dorset); flowers a dark shade of Orient Red.
Conservation status Vulnerable (VU)
Taxonomic note Closely allied to R. pocophorum but differing in its broader leaves and non-tomentose petioles. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
An evergreen shrub up to 6 ft high in the wild; young stems glabrous, not glandular. Leaves leathery, obovate, about 3 in. long, 15⁄8 in. wide, rounded and mucronate at the apex, obtuse at the base, glabrous above, clad beneath with a dense cinnamon-coloured indumentum which conceals the lateral veins but not the midrib. Petiole about 3⁄8 in. long. Flowers borne March or early April, up to fifteen together in a compact truss on glandular stalks about 3⁄8 in. long. Calyx cup-shaped, fleshy, about 1⁄4 in. long, with five irregular lobes. Corolla tubular-campanulate, scarlet or crimson, about 11⁄2 in. long. Ovary glandular and tomentose; style glabrous. (s. Neriiflorum ss. Haematodes)
R. coelicum was discovered by Farrer on the Chawchi pass, upper Burma, between the Salween and the upper Irrawaddy (Nmai Hka). He described it as a thin, low little bush, flowering in the snow, and ‘making blots of scarlet, visible for miles.’ It is introduced by Forrest from the Tsarong region of S.E. Tibet, some way to the north of the type-locality, growing at 13,000 to 14,000 ft and making a shrub 4 to 5 ft high (F.21830). It belongs to the same subgroup as R. haematodes, R. chaetomallum, and R. catacosmum, but in those species the inflorescence is lax and few-flowered and the young stems and petioles are tomentose and without glands.
R. coelicum received an Award of Merit when shown by Col. The Lord Digby on April 19,1955 (raised from F. 21830).
Forrest’s 21830, mentioned under this species on page 637, has been identified as belonging to the closely related R. pocophorum.
R. × hemigymnum (Tagg & Forr.) Chamberlain R. chaetomallum var. hemigymnum Tagg & Forr. – A natural hybrid between R. pocophorum and R. electeum (Rev. 2, pp. 388-9).