Kindly sponsored by
Peter Norris, enabling the use of The Rhododendron Handbook 1998
Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles
'Rhododendron maddenii' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.
Free-growing or epiphytic shrub, to 2.5 m; young shoots lacking setae. Leaves 6-16(-18) x 2.8-6(-8) cm, elliptic to broadly obovate, apex acute or obtuse, margin not ciliate, upper surface with midrib impressed; lower surface often brownish, the scales overlapping. Flowers (l-)2-5(-7), in a loose terminal inflorescence, scented; calyx lobes (3-)5-12(-16) mm; corolla white, often flushed pink or purplish, rarely totally pink, usually with a yellow blotch at base, at first narrowly funnel-campanulate, later funnel-campanulate, (35-)60-85(-100) mm, outer surface scaly from base to middle of lobes; stamens (15-)17-27; ovary divided into (8-)10(-12) chambers, densely scaly, tapering into the scaly style. Flowering May-June. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
Distribution Bhutan Myanmar N China SW India N Vietnam
RHS Hardiness Rating H3
Conservation status Least concern (LC)
An evergreen shrub up to 9 ft high, of open habit; bark papery; young shoots grey, clad with red-brown scales. Leaves lanceolate to oblong-lanceolate, sharply pointed, tapered at both ends, 3 to 6 in. long, 11⁄4 to 21⁄2 in. wide, dark green above, green or glaucous beneath but nearly covered with scales; stalk 1⁄2 to 1 in. long. Flowers very fragrant, produced from June to August in clusters of two to four. Calyx up to 5⁄8 in. long, but usually smaller. Corolla white, sometimes flushed with rose on the outside, funnel-shaped, 4 in. long and wide, five-lobed, the lobes rounded, over 1 in. wide; scaly outside. Stamens twenty, 2 in. long, glabrous; anthers orange-yellow. Ovary and style completely clad with scales. Bot Mag., t. 4805. (s. and ss. Maddenii)
Native of the Himalaya from Sikkim eastward; discovered by J. D. Hooker in 1849 in Sikkim, near the village of Choongtam, and introduced by him. It occurs at 5,000 to 9,000 ft altitude, and is not hardy in our average climate, but is a delightful shrub in Cornwall and other mild places, one of its good qualities being that it flowers later in the season than most rhododendrons; another that it is easily grown. It is named after Major Madden, who belonged to the Bengal Civil Service in 1849.
The species mentioned under R. maddenii on page 715 are disposed of as follows in the Edinburgh revision:
[R. brachsiphon] – Included in R. maddenii subsp. maddenii.
[R. manipurense] – Included in R. maddenii subsp. crassum.
[R. polyandrum] – Included in R. maddenii subsp. maddenii.
subsp. crassum (Franch.) Cullen R. crassum Franch.; R. manipurense Balf.f. & Watt; R. odoriferum Hutch. – Differing from the typical subspecies in the broader, more elliptic leaves; usually pubescent filaments; and differently shaped seed-capsule (Rev. 1, p. 33). It has a more eastern distribution than subsp. maddenii, from Manipur to Yunnan, south to Vietnam.
subsp. maddenii R. jenkinsii Nutt.; R. brevitubum Balf.f. & Cooper; R. brachysiphon Hutch.; R. polyandrum Hutch. – This, the typical subspecies, ranges from Sikkim to south-east Tibet.
Dr Cullen discusses the variations of R. maddenii on page 35 of his revision.
R. brevitubum Balf. f & Cooper (1917), not J. J. Smith (1914)
R. maddenii var. obtusifolium Hutch
R. crassum Franch.
R. odoriferum Hutch.
R. manipurense Balf.f. & Watt.
Leaves 9–15(–18) × (4–)5.5–8cm, usually elliptic; stamen filaments usually pubescent; capsule oblong-cylindrical, apex abruptly rounded to truncate.
Distribution India (Manipur), Burma, China (SE Tibet, Yunnan), Vietnam.
Awards AM 1924 (T.H. Lowinsky, Sunninghill) to subsp. crassum; buds tinted pink, flowers white. AGM 1993
Taxonomic note (R. crassum Franch., and incl. R. manipurense Balf.f. & Watt & R. odoriferum Hutch.)
This is a very variable species as the synonymy quoted indicates. However, R. maddenii is consistently characterized by the large number of stamens and by the number of ovary chambers.
R. brachysiphon Balf.f. ex Hutch.
R. calophyllum Nutt.
R. polyandrum Hutch.
Leaves 6–11(–15) × 2.8–4(–5.5)cm, often obovate; filaments of stamens often glabrous; capsule ovoid-globose, apex rounded.
Distribution India (Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh), Bhutan, China (SE Tibet).
Awards AM 1933 (Lt Col L.C.R. Messel, Nymans) as R. polyandrum; flowers white, with a yellow blotch. AM 1938 (Lt Col L.C.R. Messel, Nymans) as R. polyandrum; flowers white, flushed pink. AM 1938 (Lt Col E.H.W. Bolitho, Trengwainton, Cornwall); buds greenish yellow, flushed pink, opening white, greenish within. AM 1978 (Maj. A.E. Hardy, Sandling Park, Kent) to a clone ‘Ascreavie’, from L. & S. 1141; flowers white, flushed red-purple externally. AGM 1993
Taxonomic note (incl. R. calophyllum Nuttall, R. brachysiphon Balf.f. ex Hutch. & R. polyandrum Hutch.)
R. brachysiphon is distinctive, with small flowers, 45–48mm long, but is no more than an extreme among a series of forms that do not have clear morphological boundaries.