Rhododendron mallotum Balf. f. & Ward

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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 mallotum' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/rhododendron/rhododendron-mallotum/). Accessed 2024-05-28.



  • Rhododendron aemulorum Balf. f.

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.
With an unbroken margin.
Lacking hairs smooth. glabrescent Becoming hairless.
A covering of hairs or scales.
midveinCentral and principal vein in a leaf.
Short straight point. mucronate Bearing a mucro.
Generally an elongated structure arising from the ovary bearing the stigma at its tip.


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

Recommended citation
'Rhododendron mallotum' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/rhododendron/rhododendron-mallotum/). Accessed 2024-05-28.

Shrub or small tree, 1.5–6.5 m. Leaves 10–13 × 4.5–6.3 cm, broadly oblanceolate to obovate, lower surface covered with a dense rufous lanate tomentum composed of dendroid hairs; petioles densely tomentose. Flowers 7–14, in a dense truss; calyx 2–3 mm; corolla fleshy, crimson, tubular- campanulate, with nectar pouches, 40–45 mm; ovary densely rufous-tomentose, abruptly contracted into the glabrous style. Flowering March-April. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)

Distribution  Myanmar NE China W Yunnan

Habitat 3,350–3,650 m

RHS Hardiness Rating H5

Awards AM 1933 (Col S.R. Clarke, Borde Hill, Sussex); flowers crimson. AM 1973 (Crown Estate Commissioners, Windsor), as a foliage plant.

Conservation status Endangered (EN)

Taxonomic note A distinctive and fine species in cultivation. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)

An evergreen shrub or a small tree, in the wild up to 15 ft high; young shoots stout, downy. Leaves obovate, 3 to 7 in. long, half or rather more than half as much wide, dark dull green and wrinkled above; covered beneath with a rich, soft, brownish red wool; veins twelve to fifteen on each side of the midrib which is terminated by a yellowish, knob-like, shining mucro. Flowers in March or April in hemispherical trusses about 5 in. wide, carrying over a dozen blossoms; flower-stalk about 12 in. long, very woolly. Calyx very small. Corolla tubular-bell-shaped, rosy scarlet to deep crimson, 2 in. wide, 112 in. long, with five notched lobes, each 78 in. wide. Stamens ten, 34 to 1 in. long, glabrous; anthers dark brown. Ovary silky-hairy; style glabrous, 112 in. long. Bot. Mag., t. 9419. (s. Neriiflorum ss. Haematodes)

R. mallotum was discovered by Kingdon Ward in 1914 above the Hpimaw pass, N.E. upper Burma, on the Nmai-Salween divide. It was introduced by Farrer in 1919 from the same locality, and also simultaneously by Forrest, from the China side of the divide. E. H. M. Cox, who accompanied Farrer on his 1919 expedition, later wrote: ‘The entire Burmese side north of the pass was studded with it, rising squat and sturdy out of a sea of Bamboo. It was particularly uniform in size, always about 16 ft in height, with a shiny bronzed trunk… . The flowers were of the deepest and most luminous scarlet imaginable, giving out a glow of hidden light even on the darkest day… . Out on that hillside, with its top above the sea of green, it has to bear the brunt of every wind that blows’ (Farrers Last Journey, p. 54).

As Mr Cox anticipated, R. mallotum has proved quite hardy, though it needs light shade and shelter from cold winds. But flowering so early, its value for frosty gardens lies only in its beautiful leaves, etched above, and clad beneath and on the stalks with a vividly coloured indumentum. It is of erect rather narrow habit, usually much taller than wide. The Award of Merit was given to it on March 7, 1933, when shown from Borde Hill, Sussex, by Col. S. R. Clarke.