Rhododendron heliolepis Franch.

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

Recommended citation
'Rhododendron heliolepis' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/rhododendron/rhododendron-heliolepis/). Accessed 2021-01-27.



  • Rhododendron plebeium Balf. f. & W. W. Sm.

Other species 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.
Lance-shaped; broadest in middle tapering to point.
Lowest part of the carpel containing the ovules; later developing into the fruit.
Egg-shaped; broadest towards the stem.
Generally an elongated structure arising from the ovary bearing the stigma at its tip.


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

Recommended citation
'Rhododendron heliolepis' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/rhododendron/rhododendron-heliolepis/). Accessed 2021-01-27.

Shrub, to 3 m; young growth scaly, purplish. Leaves strongly aromatic when crushed, (5-)5.7-10.5 x (1.8-)2-4 cm, oblong-ovate to oblong-elliptic, apex acute, upper surface dark green and shining, lower surface with close but not touching conspicuous brownish scales. Flowers (4-)6-10 per inflorescence; calyx minute to 3mm; corolla white to pink or purple, usually with greenish or brownish flecks on upper lobes, funnel-shaped, (22-)24-34 mm; stamens 10; ovary densely scaly, usually pubescent above, style straight, pubescent below. Flowering June-July. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)

RHS Hardiness Rating H5

Conservation status Least concern (LC)

An evergreen shrub up to 10 ft high; young shoots greyish, scaly. Leaves ovate-lanceolate, pointed, rounded at the base, 2 to 4 in. long, 1 to 134 in. wide, dark green above, rather tawny green beneath and sprinkled thickly with glistening scales; stalk 14 to 34 in. long. Flowers four to seven in a loose cluster, opening in late May or June. Calyx 110 in. long, with rounded lobes, scaly like the flower-stalk, which is 12 to 34 in. long. Corolla widely funnel-shaped, 1 to 113 in. long and wide, scaly outside, rosy red with crimson markings. Stamens ten, 12 to 34 in. long, densely downy at the base; ovary densely scaly; style as long as the stamens, downy at the base. (s. Heliolepis)

Native of N.W. Yunnan and bordering parts of Burma; discovered by the French missionary Delavay in 1886 between Tali and Hoching; introduced by Forrest in 1912 from the Shweli-Salween divide. In its leaf it bears a strong resemblance to the well-known R. rubiginosum in the same series, but flowers much later and is valuable on that account. A form raised from Forrest 26961 received an Award of Merit when shown by Mrs Stevenson of Tower Court, Ascot, on May 29, 1954. The seeds under this number were collected by Forrest in 1925 near the Chimi-li pass on the Burma-Yunnan border, near to where Farrer and Cox had collected seeds six years earlier.

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

var. brevistylum (Franch.) Cullen R. brevistylum Franch.; R. pholidotum Balf.f. & W.W. Sm.; R. porrosquameum Balf.f. & Forr. – See R. brevistylum, page 613. Only the shape of the leaves separates this from var. heliolepis. The short style to which the epithet refers is of no significance.

var. brevistylum (Franch.) Cullen

R. brevistylum Franch.

Leaves cuneate at base, (2.2-)2.7-3.3(-3.6)× as long as broad; inflorescence (5-)6-10-flowered. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)


  • China – SE Tibet, Yunnan, SW Sichuan

AM 1933 (J.J. Crosfield, Kensington, London) from Kingdon-Ward 7108; flowers pink externally, white inside, with pink spots.

Taxonomic note (R. brevistylum Franch. & incl. R. pholidotum Balf.f. & W.W.Sm.) Royal Horticultural Society (1997)

var. heliolepis

R. fumidum Balf.f. & W.W.Sm.

Leaves with base truncate or rounded, 2.2-2.8(-3.3)x as long as broad; inflorescence (4-)5-8-flowered. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)


  • Myanmar – NE
  • China – Yunnan, SE Tibet

AM 1954 (Mrs R.M. Stevenson, Tower Court, Ascot) from Forrest 26961; flowers white, spotted with green and brown.