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 rufum' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.
Shrub, 1.3-4.5 m. Leaves 6.5-11 x 2.5-5 cm, obovate to elliptic, apex apiculate, lower surface covered with a two-layered indumentum, the upper layer a thin to dense reddish brown tomentum composed of ramiform hairs, the lower compacted, whitish, embedded in a surface film; petioles tomentose. Flowers 6-11, in a tight truss; calyx c.0.5 mm; corolla white to pale pink, with crimson flecks, campanulate, nectar pouches lacking; ovary densely reddish-tomentose, with a few stalked glands below the more or less glabrous style. Flowering April-May. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
Distribution China N Sichuan, Gansu
Habitat 3,050-3,650 m
RHS Hardiness Rating H5
Awards AM 1980 (National Trust for Scotland, Brodick). Trusses 10-flowered; corolla widely funnel-campanulate, white with red dorsal spotting.
Conservation status Least concern (LC)
Taxonomic note R. rufum is allied to R. bureavioides (q.v.), and perhaps also to R. przewalskii. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
A shrub to about 20 ft high. Leaves elliptic or broadest slightly above the middle, obtuse and apiculate at the apex, rounded to cuneate at the base, up to 41⁄2 in. long and 2 in. wide, indumentum of lower surface two-layered, the upper layer a tomentum of branched hairs which are at first white, later brown, concealing a lower layer of compacted white hairs. Inflorescence of six to twelve flowers; pedicels densely tomentose. Calyx almost nil. Corolla widely funnel-campanulate, about 11⁄4 in. long, white to pink, spotted with crimson. Ovary densely tomentose and slightly glandular. Style glabrous or almost so.
Native of Kansu and Szechwan; described from a specimen collected by Potanin in southern Kansu in 1885. It was introduced by Wilson (as R. weldianum) from western Szechwan in 1910, but probably most of the plants in cultivation are from seeds collected by Dr J. Rock in Kansu and grown as R. rufum.
Some forms of this species are as ornamental in foliage as R. bureaui, others quite worthless. It is very hardy.