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 orbiculare' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.
Shrub or tree, 1.5-15 m. Leaves 7-12.5 x 5.6-7.7 cm, orbicular to ovate-orbicular, base cordate, lower surface glabrous. Flowers 10-17 in a truss; calyx c.0.5 mm; corolla 7-lobed, deep rose-pink, campanulate to open-campanulate, nectar pouches lacking, 35-40 mm; stamens 14; ovary stalked-glandular, style glabrous. Flowering April-May. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
Distribution China Sichuan, Guangxi
Habitat 2,500-4,000 m
RHS Hardiness Rating H5
Awards AM 1922 (Hon. H.D. McLaren, Bodnant); flowers rose pink.
Conservation status Vulnerable (VU)
Taxonomic note Only subsp. orbiculare, with orbicular leaves, is known in cultivation. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
An evergreen shrub up to 6 or 10 ft high; young shoots stout, purplish, glandular. Leaves almost orbicular, but usually somewhat longer than broad, 2 to 4 in. long, deeply auricled at the base, rounded at the apex, with a minute tip formed by a slight prolongation and thickening of the midrib; quite glabrous, dark green above, glaucous beneath; stalk 11⁄2 to 2 in. long, very stout. Flowers borne in April or May, up to ten or so in a terminal truss 6 in. across; flower-stalks glabrous, up to 21⁄4 in. long. Calyx minute, glabrous. Corolla widely bell-shaped, 2 to 21⁄2 in. across, seven-lobed, pale magenta-pink. Stamens about fourteen, shorter than the corolla. Ovary glandular, style glabrous. Bot. Mag., t. 8775. (s. Fortunei ss. Orbiculare)
Native of W. Szechwan, China; discovered by Père David around 1870; introduced to Britain by Wilson in 1904. It is a very distinct rhododendron, making a dense bush of rounded habit if not crowded. But the flowers are usually of a cold shade of bluish pink which is far from attractive. It received an Award of Merit in 1922.
subsp. cardiobasis (Sleumer) Chamberlain R. cardiobasis Sleumer – This is mentioned under R. orbiculare on page 733, as a related species.