Rhododendron mollyanum Cowan & Davidian

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

Recommended citation
'Rhododendron mollyanum' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/rhododendron/rhododendron-mollyanum/). Accessed 2024-07-21.


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.
(pl. apices) Tip. apical At the apex.
Organism arising via vegetative or asexual reproduction.
The inner whorl of the perianth. Composed of free or united petals often showy.
Flat and circular.
A group of genera more closely related to each other than to genera in other families. Names of families are identified by the suffix ‘-aceae’ (e.g. Myrtaceae) with a few traditional exceptions (e.g. Leguminosae).
Lacking hairs smooth. glabrescent Becoming hairless.
A covering of hairs or scales.
Leaf stalk.
(in a flower) The part of the carpel that receives pollen and on which it germinates. May be at the tip of a short or long style or may be reduced to a stigmatic surface at the apex of the ovary.
Generally an elongated structure arising from the ovary bearing the stigma at its tip.
Inflorescence in which pedicels all arise from same point on peduncle. May be flat-topped (as in e.g. Umbelliferae) to spherical (as in e.g. Araliaceae). umbellate In form of umbel.


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

Recommended citation
'Rhododendron mollyanum' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/rhododendron/rhododendron-mollyanum/). Accessed 2024-07-21.

A small evergreen tree, so far around 20 ft high in cultivation; young stems stout, covered with a thin grey wool. Leaves very thick and rigid, up to 12 in. long and 214 to 4 in. wide in the type, rounded at the apex, tapered towards the base, glossy and dark green above, with impressed lateral veins, undersurface covered with a thin, shining, silvery-white indumentum; petiole up to 158 in. long, thinly grey-woolly. Flowers in a terminal umbel of up to twenty, opening in April or May; pedicels up to 2 in. long, woolly. Calyx minute. Corolla pink or sometimes white edged with pink, with a crimson blotch at the base, obliquely campanulate, about 212 in. long and wide. Stamens fifteen or sixteen. Ovary clad with matted hairs; style glabrous, about as long as the corolla, with a large discoid stigma. (s. Grande)

R. mollyanum was described in 1953 from a plant at Brodick in the Isle of Arran, raised from Kingdon Ward’s seed no. 6261, collected in the middle of December 1924 near Gompo Ne, S.E. Tibet, above the Tsangpo gorge. Two months earlier he had found trees on the southern side of the Doshong La, none of which had flowered or fruited that year and, judging from his field note, he considered these to represent the same species as those from which he later took seed, though they bore leaves much larger than in cultivated R. mollyanum – 2 ft long and 8 or 9 in. wide. Owing to some unexplained confusion the field specimen under KW 6261 is R. exasperatum and none corresponding to R. mollyanum has been traced. The type of the species is therefore a specimen taken from the Brodick plant.

R. mollyanum is allied to both R. grande and R. sinogrande, differing from the former in the larger more leathery leaves, rounded at the apex, from the latter in the narrower and smaller leaves and fewer stamens; and from both in the pink flowers.

R. mollyanum is perfectly hardy and grows well in woodland south of London. There is some variation in the colouring of the flowers and in the size of the leaves, but they are never quite as long, and certainly not as wide, as on the plants described by Kingdon Ward, but it was not from these that the seeds were taken. A First Class Certificate was given on April 9, 1957, to the clone ‘Benmore’, when a truss was exhibited at a meeting of the Rhododendron and Camellia Committee held in Scotland. It was raised from seed at the Younger Botanic Garden, Benmore, about fifteen years previously.

R. mollyanum is named after the late Duchess of Montrose, known as Molly to her family but, as Kingdon Ward pointed out, the name is of very doubtful validity, since the almost identical name R. mollianum had been published many years previously for a New Guinea rhododendron.

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

For the reason pointed out in the last paragraph on page 723, this species has had to be renamed. See R. montroseanum.

R pudorosum Cowan

Near to R. grande, but with pink or magenta-pink flowers and with the stems densely covered with bud-scales, which persist for two or three years. Discovered by Ludlow and Sherriff in 1936 on the Tibetan side of the Assam Himalaya, above the Chayul and Tsari rivers, tributaries of the Subansiri. It is in cultivation and flowered at Edinburgh in 1972.