Rhododendron genestierianum Forr.

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Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles

Recommended citation
'Rhododendron genestierianum' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/rhododendron/rhododendron-genestierianum/). Accessed 2024-06-19.


Other taxa in genus


(pl. calyces) Outer whorl of the perianth. Composed of several sepals.
The inner whorl of the perianth. Composed of free or united petals often showy.
Traditional English name for the formerly independent state known to its people as Bod now the Tibet (Xizang) Autonomous Region of the People’s Republic of China. The name Xizang is used in lists of Chinese provinces.
Bluish or greyish waxy substance on leaves or fruits.
Immature shoot protected by scales that develops into leaves and/or flowers.
Lacking hairs smooth. glabrescent Becoming hairless.
Grey-blue often from superficial layer of wax (bloom).
Lance-shaped; broadest in middle tapering to point.
Inversely lanceolate; broadest towards apex.
Lowest part of the carpel containing the ovules; later developing into the fruit.
Generally an elongated structure arising from the ovary bearing the stigma at its tip.


Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles

Recommended citation
'Rhododendron genestierianum' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/rhododendron/rhododendron-genestierianum/). Accessed 2024-06-19.

Shrub, to 5 m; bark of older branches smooth, purplish; young shoots glabrous. Leaves 6.5–12 × 2.5–4 cm, narrowly elliptic to narrowly elliptic-oblanceolate, apex abruptly acuminate; lower surface with a white papillate epidermis, the scales distant, equal, golden-yellow to brown. Pedicels thin. Flowers c.12, in a lax raceme; calyx to 2 mm; corolla fleshy, reddish purple, pruinose, campanulate, 12–17 mm; stamens (8–)10, regular; ovary scaly, style sharply deflexed, glabrous. Flowering April-May.

It is generally tender in cultivation and is only suitable for relatively frost-free sites. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)

Distribution  Myanmar NE China NW Yunnan, SE Tibet

Habitat 2,450–4,250 m

RHS Hardiness Rating H3

Conservation status Near threatened (NT)

Taxonomic note This is a distinctive species that is probably distantly allied to R. campylogynum. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)

An evergreen shrub described by Forrest as being found by him from 4 to 12 ft high in the wild; young shoots glabrous, glaucous. Leaves aggregated about the end of the twig, of thin texture, lanceolate or oblanceolate, slenderly pointed, wedge-shaped at the base; 2 to 4 (sometimes 6) in. long, 14 to 112 in. wide, bright green above, very glaucous beneath, glabrous on both sides except for a few scales beneath; stalk 14 to 34 in. long. Flowers in a distinctly racemose cluster of twelve or more, opening in April. Calyx small, shallowly or not at all lobed, glabrous. Corolla narrowly bell-shaped, about 12 in. long, of fleshy texture and plum-purple covered with a bloom, the five lobes erect. Stamens ten, glabrous, both they and the anthers purple-red to bright crimson; ovary purplish, scaly; style glabrous, bent over. Bot. Mag., t. 9310. (s. Glaucophyllum ss. Genestierianum)

Native mainly of upper Burma and S.E. Tibet (Tsarong); discovered by Forrest on the Salween-Irrawaddy divide in 1919 and introduced by him. He called it ‘altogether a distinct species much to be desired for our gardens’. But Farrer, who saw it near the type-locality in the following year, remarked: ‘Most curious and almost ugly, hardly to be known at first glance for a Rhododendron.’ Kingdon Ward wrote of it: ‘This is a slim shrub … with willow-like leaves snow-white beneath, as though powdered with talcum. The flowers, borne on long pedicels in loose heads of twenty, thirty or more, are tiny, plum-purple, and in bud look like large black currants. It is not a beautiful plant, having a solemn, rather funereal look; but like so many departures from the normal in this immense genus, is undeniably interesting’ (Return to the Irrawaddy, p. 161).

Gardeners seem to have agreed with Farrer and Kingdon Ward, for the species is very rare in cultivation. Nor is it altogether hardy.