Kindly sponsored by
Peter Norris, enabling the use of The Rhododendron Handbook 1998
New article for Trees and Shrubs Online.
'Rhododendron gracilentum' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.
Small usually spreading much branched shrub to 0.5 m, mostly considerably less, terrestrial or epiphytic; young stems finely scaly with dark brown scales. Leaves 0.8-1.5 x 0.2-0.7 narrowly to broadly elliptic, apex acute rarely sub-obtuse, margin flat, base narrowly to broadly tapering; upper surface glossy green with only very inconspicuous scale remnants, the midrib faint, lateral veins obscure; lower surface with small dark brown disc-shaped to stellate, well spaced scales which clearly show up as darker dots, midrib distinct but lateral veins obscure. Flowers mostly solitary, rarely in pairs, hanging vertically down; calyx a low scaly lobed disc; corolla red or deep pink cylindrical to narrowly funnel-shaped, 2-3 x 1.5-2 cm, with a few inconspicuous scales on the tube; stamens 10, rather irregularly on the upper side of the mouth of the flower; ovary densely scaly, style with simple hairs at least in the basal half. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
Distribution Papua New Guinea E
Habitat 2,000-2,800 m
RHS Hardiness Rating H2
Conservation status Least concern (LC)
A delightful, small, bushy plant in cultivation, that covers itself in flowers in the spring. It is unlikely to be confused with other species. The nearest relation in cultivation is possibly R. womersleyi which has a very different habit with few branches and simple white hairs on the ovary. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)