Rhododendron lanigerum Tagg

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

Recommended citation
'Rhododendron lanigerum' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/rhododendron/rhododendron-lanigerum/). Accessed 2024-05-25.



  • Rhododendron silvaticum Cowan

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.
Flower-bearing part of a plant; arrangement of flowers on the floral axis.
Lowest part of the carpel containing the ovules; later developing into the fruit.
(pl. apices) Tip. apical At the apex.
Ending abruptly in a sharp point.
Lacking hairs smooth. glabrescent Becoming hairless.
Flower-bearing part of a plant; arrangement of flowers on the floral axis.
Lance-shaped; broadest in middle tapering to point.
Inversely lanceolate; broadest towards apex.
Leaf stalk.
Generally an elongated structure arising from the ovary bearing the stigma at its tip.
(syn.) (botanical) An alternative or former name for a taxon usually considered to be invalid (often given in brackets). Synonyms arise when a taxon has been described more than once (the prior name usually being the one accepted as correct) or if an article of the International Code of Botanical Nomenclature has been contravened requiring the publishing of a new name. Developments in taxonomic thought may be reflected in an increasing list of synonyms as generic or specific concepts change over time.


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

Recommended citation
'Rhododendron lanigerum' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/rhododendron/rhododendron-lanigerum/). Accessed 2024-05-25.

Shrub or small multi-stemmed tree, 2.7–6 m. Leaves 16–22 × 5–7 cm, elliptic to oblanceolate, lower surface with a two-layered white to fawn indumentum, the upper layer dense and woolly, composed of dendroid hairs, the lower compacted. Flowers 20–25(–50), in a dense inflorescence, deep rose-pink to reddish purple, with darker nectar pouches, campanulate, c.35 mm. Flowering March-April. Royal Horticultural Society (1997).

Distribution  China S Tibet India NE

Habitat 2,550–3,350 m

RHS Hardiness Rating H5

Awards AM 1949 (Col E.H.W. Bolitho, Trengwainton, Cornwall); flowers Carmine. AM 1951 (Mrs R.M.Stevenson, Tower Court, Ascot) as R. silvaticum, from Kingdon-Ward 6258. AM 1951 (Crown Estate Commissioners, Windsor) to a clone 'Round Wood', as R. silvaticum, from Kingdon-Ward 6258; flowers crimson. AM 1954 (R.O. Hambro, Logan House, Stranraer) to a clone 'Sylvia', as R. silvaticum; flowers pale crimson, suffused white, with a dark crimson ring in the throat. AM 1961 (R. Strauss, Stonehurst, Ardingly, Sussex) to a clone 'Stonehurst'; flowers a light shade of Cherry, in clusters of c.35. AM 1961 and FCC 1967 (Crown Estate Commissioners, Windsor) to a clone 'Chapel Wood'; flowers Neyron Rose, in trusses of up to 50.

Conservation status Near threatened (NT)

Taxonomic note The red-flowered forms of this species have been referred to R. silvaticum. Royal Horticultural Society (1997).

An evergreen shrub or small tree, up to 40 ft high in the wild; young stems clad with whitish or grey wool. Leaves oblong, oblong-lanceolate, or oblong-oblanceolate, 6 to 10 in. long, 112 to 3 in. wide, obtuse, rounded or sometimes cuspidate at the apex, cuneate to rounded at the base, lateral veins impressed, glabrous above when mature, clad beneath with a dense whitish or grey felt; petiole up to 78 in, long, woolly. Inflorescence a dense terminal truss of up to forty or so flowers, opening late February to April; pedicels 38 to 58 in. long. Calyx 18 in. or slightly less long. Corolla campanulate or tubular-campanulate, about 2 in. wide, carmine or rosy purple, five-lobed. Stamens ten. Ovary clad with grey or white wool; style glabrous. (s. and ss. Arboreum)

R. lanigerum was described in 1931 from a specimen collected by Kingdon Ward in 1928 in the Delei valley, Mishmi Hills, Assam (KW 8251), growing with other big-leaved rhododendrons at 10,000–11,000 ft. He collected seed, and all the plants known as R. lanigerum up to about 1960 are from this number. However, as it has later proved, Kingdon Ward had found R. lanigerum earlier, in 1924, growing in Pemako on the southern side of the Doshong La, at the eastern end of the Himalaya, at 9,000–10,000 ft. He collected seed but never saw the plants in flower, and his fruiting specimen was at first taken to be R. niveum (KW 6258). It was described as a new species in 1936, under the name R. silvaticum, the details of the flowers and inflorescence being taken from a plant at Muncaster Castle, raised from KW 6258. The two species were placed in different series – R. lanigerum in s. Falconeri, as an aberrant member, and R. silvaticum in ss. Arboreum. So it remained until about 1961, when exhibits at the early R.H.S. shows under the name R. silvaticum were pronounced to be R. lanigerum, of which R. silvaticum appears as a synonym in the R.H.S. Handbook, 1963 (and in later editions). R. lanigerum (silvaticum) was also found by Kingdon Ward in the Tsangpo Gorge, where seed was later collected by Ludlow, Sherriff, and Elliot (no. 13591, from Pemakochung).

R. lanigerum, at its best, is a splendid species, with beautifully coloured flowers in noble trusses, but the numerous awards given to it are a testimony more to its variability than to its worth as a garden plant, since it flowers too early in the spring to be reliable in its display. The type-introduction (KW 8251) seems to be uncommon, and is said to be rather tender. It received an Award of Merit on March 29, 1949, when shown by Col. E. Bolitho, Trengwainton, Cornwall (flowers carmine). The other awards have all been given to forms exhibited as R. silvaticum (or originally grown under that name). These are: ‘Round Wood’, A.M. March 20, 1951, shown by Crown Estate Commissioners, Windsor, and Mrs Stevenson (flowers crimson, twenty in the truss); ‘Silvia’, A.M. April 13, 1954, shown by R. Olaf Hambro, Logan House, Stranraer (flowers pale crimson suffused white, forty in the truss; R.C.Y.B. 1955, frontispiece); ‘Stonehurst’, A.M. March 14, 1961, shown by Ralph Strauss, Stonehurst, Ardingly (flowers cherry-red; R.C.Y.B. 1962, fig. 29); ‘Chapel Wood’, F.C.C. February 21, 1967, and previously an A.M. February 28, 1961, shown by the Crown Estate Commissioners, Windsor (flowers Neyron Rose, forty to fifty in the truss; R.C.Y.B. 1962, fig. 27).