Kindly sponsored by
Peter Norris, enabling the use of The Rhododendron Handbook 1998
New article for Trees and Shrubs Online.
'Rhododendron kawakamii' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.
Shrub to 1.5 m, epiphytic or terrestrial; young stems laxly covered with brown scales at first. Leaves 2.5-5 x 1-1.8 cm, elliptic or obovate-elliptic, the apex acute to obtuse with the midrib protruding as a short glandular point, margin entire, narrowly cartilaginous, the base broadly to narrowly tapering; upper surface at first with minute brown scales, quickly becoming glabrescent, midrib impressed, lateral veins 3-5 pairs, smooth, often somewhat obscure; lower surface with the midrib raised for most of its length, the laterals rather obscure, scales well spaced, rounded, brown, impressed in shallow pits. Flowers 4-7 per umbel, semi-erect to half-hanging; calyx of 5 unequal lobes both hairy and scaly; corolla yellow or pink or red, campanulate, 1-1.5 x 1.3-1.8 cm, covered in translucent scales, stamens 10, dimorphic and arranged all round the corolla; ovary silvery scaly, style glabrous. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
Distribution Taiwan Central Mts
Habitat 1,800-2,200 m
RHS Hardiness Rating H4
Conservation status Least concern (LC)
Only the yellow form of this species, sometimes designated var. flaviflorum Lin & Chuang, appears to be in cultivation and there is still some mystery surrounding the pink form. The original description does not mention flower colour although it was reputed to be pink or red. R taiwanianum Ying is considered synonymous with this species at present.
This is reported to be the hardiest of the Vireyas withstanding several degrees of frost and having a winter resting period in America. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)