Rhododendron lanatum Hook. f.

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Peter Norris, enabling the use of The Rhododendron Handbook 1998


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

Recommended citation
'Rhododendron lanatum' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/rhododendron/rhododendron-lanatum/). Accessed 2024-04-16.


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.
Lowest part of the carpel containing the ovules; later developing into the fruit.
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.
Lacking hairs smooth. glabrescent Becoming hairless.
A covering of hairs or scales.
midveinCentral and principal vein in a leaf.
Generally an elongated structure arising from the ovary bearing the stigma at its tip.
Dense layer of soft hairs. tomentose With tomentum.


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

Recommended citation
'Rhododendron lanatum' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/rhododendron/rhododendron-lanatum/). Accessed 2024-04-16.

Shrub, 0.5–3 m. Leaves coriaceous, leathery, 6–12 × 1.8–5 cm, elliptic to obovate, apex rounded, apiculate, lower surface covered with a dense thick, coffee-brown indumentum composed of dendroid more or less crisped hairs. Flowers 5–10, in a lax truss, creamy yellow, with crimson flecks, campanulate, without nectar pouches, 32–50 mm; ovary densely tomentose, style glabrous. Flowering April-May.

A difficult species to cultivate, apparently liking relatively dry sites. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)

Distribution  Bhutan W China S Tibet India Sikkim

Habitat 3,000–4,500 m

RHS Hardiness Rating H6

Conservation status Data deficient (DD)

Taxonomic note It is closely allied to R. flinckii but it is distinguished by the darker and thicker leaf indumentum. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)

An evergreen shrub rarely more than 6 or 7 ft high in cultivation, but said to be sometimes a small tree in the wild; young shoots, undersurface of leaves, and flower-stalks thickly covered with a pale brown felt. Leaves obovate to narrowly oval, rounded at the end, 212 to 5 in. long, 1 to 214 in. wide, upper surface at first covered with whitish wool which ultimately falls away except at the base of the midrib, leaving it dark green; stalk 14 to 12 in. long. Flowers in a terminal cluster of usually six or seven but sometimes ten, opening in April, on stalks 12 to 34 in. long. Calyx very small. Corolla 2 to 212 in. wide, bell-shaped, five-lobed, pale yellow dotted with red, the lobes rounded, 34 in. wide. Stamens ten, downy at the base; anthers dark brown. Ovary woolly; style glabrous. (s. Campanulatum)

Native of the Himalaya from E. Nepal eastward; discovered by J. D. Hooker late in 1848 in E. Nepal, at 10,000 to 12,000 ft, and introduced by him. Lionel de Rothschild wrote of this species: ‘R. lanatum … is the most difficult member of this series to cultivate in our climate. It has pretty yellow flowers, while its leaves have an attractive tawny, woolly tomentum underneath. It is hardy in most gardens, but cannot stand drought and, above all, requires more leaf soil than most rhododendrons, and unless it is given plenty of suitable woodland soil round the roots and beech haulm and oak leaves dug in and a good mulching of bracken or leaf soil on the top, is very ill-tempered and often looks a stubborn and seedy plant’ (Year Book Rhod. Ass. 1934, p. 109).

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

† R. lanatoides Chamberlain – A new species, described in 1982, the type of which is Ludlow, Sherriff and Elliot 13746, collected in south-east Tibet, but introduced earlier by Kingdon Ward (KW 5871) and perhaps in cultivation as R. roxieanum aff.

R tsariense Cowan

Leaves smaller than in R. lanatum, 1 to 2{1/2} in. long, {3/8} to 1{1/4} in. wide, rounded or slightly cordate at the base, very shordy stalked. Flowers pink, cream-coloured, or white, often spotted with pink. Discovered by Ludlow and Sherriff in the Tsari region of the Tibetan Himalaya in 1936 and introduced by them. According to the collectors’ field notes the species varies in habit and may grow 12 ft high. Their seed-number 2766 was from plants 2 to 5 ft high, and an example at Edinburgh from this sending was only 2 ft high in 1960, when almost a quarter-century old. In 1964 an Award of Merit was given to clone ‘Yum-Yum’ with white flowers flushed with pink, exhibited by Maj. Gen. and Mrs Harrison, Tremeer, Cornwall, on April 7. The original plant, then about 4 ft high and as much across, was raised from Ludlow and Sherriff 2858, collected 1936; according to the field note, the parent plants were 8 to 10 ft high.R. tsariense, in its dwarf forms, would be worth planting even if it never flowered. It makes a rugged, compact specimen, and the leaves, powdered with brown above all through the summer, become glabrous and rich olive-green in winter.

var. luciferum Cowan

Leaves narrower, oblong, pointed at the apex. Described from specimens collected by Ludlow and Sherriff in S.E. Tibet in 1936, and introduced by them. The type is from the Bimbi La, in Tsari. In the field note they remark: ‘Indumentum of dried leaf is skinned off and rolled up and sold as wicks for butter lamps’ – whence the epithet luciferum.