Straggling shrub, 0.5–1.5 m; young shoots scaly and puberulous. Leaves thick and leathery, some persisting, 1–3.5 × 0.5–2 cm, elliptic to oval, apex rounded, mucronate, upper surface with midrib shortly puberulent, otherwise glabrous, lower surface densely scaly. Flowers solitary, axillary but at the ends of the branches; calyx rim-like; corolla pink or violet pink, openly funnel-shaped, 14–21 mm, outer surface pilose towards base; stamens 10; ovary scaly, otherwise glabrous, impressed below the decimate style. Flowering January-March. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
Distribution China N Japan Hokkaido Mongolia Russia Eastern Siberia
Habitat s.l.-1,600 m
RHS Hardiness Rating H6
Awards AM 1990 (Crown Estate Commissioners, Windsor) to a clone 'Hiltingbury'; flowers in clusters of 3-4, corolla purple within, reverse a darker purple. AGM 1993, to an FCC clone 'Midwinter'.
Conservation status Least concern (LC)
Taxonomic note This species is closely allied to R. mucronulatum but differs in the partially persistent leaves that are more densely scaly below, and in the smaller flowers. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
A deciduous or semi-evergreen shrub up to 6 ft in height; young shoots scaly and downy. Leaves oval, rounded at the apex, tapering or rounded at the base, 1⁄2 to 11⁄2 in. long, 1⁄4 to 5⁄8 in. wide, dark glossy green and slightly scaly above, paler and scaly beneath. Flowers bright rosy purple, 1 to 11⁄2 in. across, produced during January and February singly from each one of a cluster of scaly buds at the end of the previous summer’s growth, where there are usually but one or two flowers open at a time. Corolla flat, saucer-shaped; calyx-lobes five, short. Bot. Mag., t. 636 (s. Dauricum)
Native of Russia from E. Siberia to the Pacific, and of N.E. Mongolia, N.E. China, Korea, and Japan; grown in English gardens since 1780. It is one of the earliest of rhododendrons to flower, showing its blossoms usually in January, sometimes even when snow is on the ground, but later in some seasons. For this reason, although its beauties are of a modest kind, it is well worth growing in a small group, preferably in some spot sufficiently sheltered to mitigate to some extent the harshness of wind and weather at the inclement season when its blossoms appear.
It should be noted that the correct name for the former Dauricum series is subsect. Rhodorastrum.
† cv. ‘Hokkaido’. – Flowers large, white, in March-April. Award of Merit 1979, when exhibited by Peter Cox, Glendoick Nurseries. It was originally introduced to the USA by Warren Berg.
There are other clones of R. dauricum now available (apart from ‘Midwinter’), giving together a range of flowering times from winter to spring.
For the related species recognised in the Flora of the Soviet Union, see Rev. 1, p. 113.
A selection with Phlox Purple flowers. Award of Merit March 19, 1963; First Class Certificate February 4, 1969, on both occasions when exhibited by the Crown Estate Commissioners, Windsor Great Park.
R. dauricum var. atrovirens Hort.
R. ledebourii Poyark