Tree, 5–6 m; bark rough. Leaves 14–20 × 5–6.5 cm, ovate-lanceolate, upper surface reticulate, lower surface covered with a two-layered indumentum, the upper layer dense, cinnamon, composed of strongly fimbriate narrowly cup-shaped hairs, the lower compacted; petioles terete. Flowers 9–15 in a truss, 7-lobed, pale rose with a crimson blotch, campanulate, nectar pouches lacking, (30–)40–50 mm; stamens 14; ovary glabrous or with a few rufous hairs. Flowering April-May. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
Distribution China Sichuan
Habitat c.2,000 m
RHS Hardiness Rating H6
Conservation status Vulnerable (VU)
Taxonomic note This species may be distinguished from the remaining members of the subsection by the almost glabrous ovary. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
An evergreen tree up to 25 ft high; young shoots grey-downy at first, glabrous later. Leaves 5 to 10 in. long, 2 to 4 in. wide, from oblong-ovate to oblanceolate; soon glabrous above, densely clothed beneath with pale yellowish grey or pale brown velvety down; stalk 1 to 11⁄2 in. long. Flowers about fifteen in a rounded truss opening in April and May. Calyx a mere wavy rim. Corolla seven-lobed, bell-shaped, 11⁄4 in. long, white tinged with pink outside, with a blotch and spots of crimson inside. Stamens fourteen, white with down at the base; ovary and style glabrous. Bot. Mag., n.s., t. 231. (s. Falconeri)
Native of Szechwan, China; discovered and introduced by Wilson in 1908. The flowers were unknown until plants flowered in this country in 1923, or possibly before. Like most of the rhododendrons of Wilson’s introduction, it is quite hardy at Kew and is well worth growing in similarly unfavourable spots.