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 praeteritum' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.
Shrub. Leaves 6-8 x 2.5-3.2 cm, obovate-elliptic, base rounded, lower surface glabrous. Flowers 5-lobed, c.7, in a lax truss; calyx 1-2 mm; corolla white flushed pink to pale pink, with purple flecks, open-campanulate, with nectar pouches, 30-40 mm; stamens 10; ovary and style glabrous. Flowering March-April. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
Distribution China W Hubei
RHS Hardiness Rating H6
Conservation status Data deficient (DD)
Taxonomic note This species was described from plants in cultivation that were supposed to have been raised from Wilson seed, apparently collected in W Hubei. R. praeteritum is the only member of Subsect. Fortunea with nectar pouches; in view of its origins its status is uncertain. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
An evergreen shrub probably 10 ft or more high; young shoots downy. Leaves oblong, rounded, or slightly heart-shaped at the base, abruptly narrowed at the apex to a short mucro, 3 to 51⁄2 in. long, 11⁄4 to 13⁄4 in. wide; dark dull green above, pale green, and ultimately glabrous beneath except on the midrib; stalk 1⁄3 to 5⁄8 in. long. Flowers opening in March about eight in a truss 4 in. wide. Calyx shallowly five-lobed, glabrous; flower-stalks 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. long, loosely downy at first. Corolla bell-shaped, 11⁄4 to 11⁄2 in. long and wide, pink or pinkish white, five-lobed, each lobe notched, 3⁄4 to 1 in. wide. Stamens ten, 5⁄8 to 11⁄4 in. long, slightly downy towards the base; anthers chocolate-purple. Ovary and style quite glabrous, (s. Fortunei ss. Oreodoxa)
R. praeteritum was described in 1922 from a plant at Kew, raised from seeds collected by Wilson in China for Messrs Veitch, probably in W. Hupeh. From R. oreodoxa itself it differs in having a five-lobed corolla and only ten stamens; the flower-stalks of R. oreodoxa are also glandular. It was at first confused with R. maculiferum, from which it is clearly distinguished by having no blotch on the corolla and a quite smooth ovary. It is very hardy and has about the same garden value as R. fargesii; on account of its early opening the blossom is liable to damage by frost.
An aberrant member of the subsect. Fortunea. The specific epithet is correctly spelt as above, not ‘praeteritinum’ as in the Edinburgh revision.