Shrub, to 2 m; bark smooth, bronze. Leaves 7–11.5 × 3.5–5.7 cm, oblong-elliptic to narrowly ovate, apex acuminate, upper surface green, lower surface pale green, scales flat, golden-brown, distant. Flowers 5–15, in a loose or dense terminal inflorescence with a rhachis up to 12 mm long; calyx lobes c.5 mm, not ciliate but fringed with scales; corolla white to yellow, narrowly funnel-campanulate, c.20 mm, outer surface scaly, glabrous; stamens 10; ovary scaly, style impressed, decimate, glabrous. Flowering April-June. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
Distribution China C Sichuan
Habitat 1,200–1,500 m
RHS Hardiness Rating H5
Awards AM 1957 (Crown Estate Commissioners, Windsor) to a clone 'Canton Consul', as var. nanum; habit rather dwarf, flowers creamish green in bud, opening cream.
Conservation status Vulnerable (VU)
Taxonomic note A dwarf form, no more than 0.2 m high, with small leaves 2–3.5 cm long is grown under the name Nanum Group. This species is considered by some authors to belong to Subsect. Triflora. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
An evergreen shrub 3 to 4 ft high; young shoots glabrous. Leaves lanceolate to narrowly obovate, usually tapered, sometimes rounded at the base, slenderly pointed, very unequal in size, and varying from 1⁄2 to 4 in. in length, by 1⁄4 to 13⁄4 in. in width; dark green, rather scaly above, pale and freely sprinkled with small scales beneath; stalk up to 1⁄4 in. long. Flowers numerous in one or two terminal clusters. Calyx-lobes 3⁄16 in. long, oblong with a rounded end, scaly. Corolla about 1 in. long, funnel-shaped, deeply lobed, varying from white to clear yellow; stamens ten, protruded, downy at the lower half; seed-vessel about half as long again as the persistent, deeply lobed calyx; style glabrous; ovary scaly. It blossoms in March or April. Bot. Mag., t. 8669. (s. Triflorum ss. Hanceanum).
A native of S.W. Szechwan, discovered by the Rev. E. Faber on Mt Omei about 1886. It was introduced by Wilson from the Mupin area during his first expedition for the Arnold Arboretum (W.882 ‘bush 1 m. tall, flowers clear yellow’). According to him it is locally very common, forming dense thickets at 8,000 to 10,000 ft. He collected seed again in October 1910, this time from plants 1 to 3 ft high (W.4255).
R. hanceanum is quite an attractive shrub, especially in its dwarfer forms, known in gardens as R. hanceanum nanum (possibly raised from W.4255, see above). One of these, subsequently given the clonal name ‘Canton Consul’, received an Award of Merit when shown by the Crown Estate Commissioners, Windsor Great Park, on April 16, 1957. The flowers in this plant are described as cream-coloured, but there is another dwarf form in cultivation with flowers of a clear yellow.
This species is now placed in subsect. Tephropepla. R. afghanicum, mentioned under it, now constitutes the monotypic subsect. Afghanica.