Erect shrub, to 2.5 m. Leaves 0.7–1.5 × 0.3–0.7 cm, broadly elliptic to oblong, apex rounded, shortly mucronate, lower surface with brown to dark brown scales that are 0.5–2× their own diameter apart. Flowers 1–3 per inflorescence; calyx 2–4(–7) mm, lobes strap-shaped or deltoid; corolla yellow, broadly funnel-shaped, pubescent outside and inside, scaly outside, 12–18 mm; stamens 8–10, as long as corolla; ovary scaly, style longer than stamens, pubescent towards the base. Flowering April-May. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
Distribution China NW Sichuan
Habitat 3,000–4,000 m
RHS Hardiness Rating H6
Conservation status Vulnerable (VU)
An evergreen shrub about 2 ft high, of rounded, bushy habit, branches densely scaly. Leaves leathery, ovate-oblong, 1⁄2 to 1 in. long, 1⁄4 to 3⁄8 in. wide; rounded at the base, dark green above, paler beneath, scaly on both surfaces; stalk 1⁄6 in. long. Flowers 1 to 11⁄4 in. across, primrose-yellow, becoming paler with age, produced during April in a terminal cluster of three to six. Corolla with a very short, rather downy tube, and flat, spreading, rounded lobes, wavy at the margins. Calyx pale green, the five lobes oblong, 1⁄4 in. long, covered like the flower-stalk (which is 1⁄8 in. long) with transparent yellowish scales. Bot. Mag., t. 8326. (s. Lapponicum)
Native of W. Szechwan, China; introduced to cultivation by Wilson for Messrs Veitch in 1905. This delightful little species is very distinct through the clear pale yellow of its flowers, and is a valuable acquisition for the rock garden or some place where dainty little plants can grow without danger of being overrun by stronger neighbours. The leaves when crushed have a pleasant, aromatic odour.
The plant known in gardens as R. flavidum album is very distinct in its taller growth, larger leaves and larger, white flowers. Probably a hybrid. In cultivation by 1925.
R. psilostylum, given as a synonym, is recognised as a variety – var. psilostylum Rehd. & Wils. (R. psilostylum (Rehd. & Wils.) Balf.f.). It is known from a single collection and is not in cultivation.
Differs from var. flavidum in having leaf scales of two kinds, some dark, the rest golden, is probably not in cultivation.