Dwarf shrub, to 1 m; leaf bud scales deciduous. Leaves 3–4 × (1–)1.3–1.7 cm, more or less elliptic, apex acute, mucronate, lower surface covered with one tier of plastered golden-brown scales. Flowers 16–20, in an elongate, dense, racemose umbel; calyx lobes 5–5.5 mm; corolla white (often pink in bud), funnel-hypocrateriform, tube 10–13 mm, pilose within, lobes 6–8 mm; stamens 8–10; ovary scaly. Flowering May.
This species has a very restricted distribution in the wild. It is difficult in cultivation. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
Distribution Afghanistan Pakistan
Habitat 3,050–3,900 m
RHS Hardiness Rating H6
Awards PC 1980 (P.A. Cox, Glendoick), from Hedge & Wendelbo seed.
Conservation status Vulnerable (VU)
An evergreen shrub of dwarf habit in cultivation, but described as 8 to 1 o ft high in the wild. Leaves 2 to 3 in. long, 1⁄3 to 5⁄8 in. wide; narrowly oval, pointed at both ends, dark dull green above, covered with brownish scales beneath; when crushed they have a strong, resinous, aromatic odour; stalk about 1⁄3 in. long. Flowers 1 in. across, white, produced during May in terminal clusters 2 to 21⁄2 in. across. Corolla with a funnel-shaped tube, hairy within, the five rounded oblong lobes not fully spreading; calyx with five narrow, oblong lobes rounded at the end, scaly, and very hairy at the margins; stamens ten, almost hidden within the corolla-tube, hairy near the bases. Bot. Mag., t. 7019. (s. Anthopogon)
Native of the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan; discovered in the Kurrum valley in 1879 by Sir Henry Collett and Dr Aitchison, and introduced the same year to Kew. It first flowered in the Kew rock garden in May 1888, and it is for such a position that it appears best adapted. It is allied to R. anthopogon, but the flowers have ten stamens and it is a more robust plant, with larger leaves.
For an account of this species and of R. afghanicum in their native habitat see R.C.Y.B. 1970, pp. 177–81.