Rhododendron saluenense Franch.

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

Recommended citation
'Rhododendron saluenense' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/rhododendron/rhododendron-saluenense/). Accessed 2024-05-29.



  • Rhododendron amaurophyllum Balf. f. & Forr.
  • Rhododendron humicola Wilding

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.
Lacking hairs smooth. glabrescent Becoming hairless.
Short straight point. mucronate Bearing a mucro.
Egg-shaped; broadest towards the stem.
Lying flat.
Generally an elongated structure arising from the ovary bearing the stigma at its tip.
(subsp.) Taxonomic rank for a group of organisms showing the principal characters of a species but with significant definable morphological differentiation. A subspecies occurs in populations that can occupy a distinct geographical range or habitat.


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

Recommended citation
'Rhododendron saluenense' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/rhododendron/rhododendron-saluenense/). Accessed 2024-05-29.

Prostrate or upright shrubs, 0.05–1.5 m; young shoots setose, the setae persistent. Leaves 0.8–3 × 0.5–1.5 cm, oblong-orbicular to oblong-elliptic, apex rounded, mucronate, upper surface usually glossy, and lacking scales, lower surface with dense overlapping brownish scales in several tiers, midrib usually with some setae. Flowers 1–3, terminal; calyx lobes 4.5–8 mm, oblong-orbicular, scaly, ciliate and puberulent; corolla magenta to purple, rarely bluish purple, very openly funnel-campanulate, 17–28 mm, outer surface pilose, with a few scales; stamens 10; ovary scaly, usually puberulent impressed below the usually glabrous style. Flowering April-June. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)

Distribution  Myanmar NE China SE Tibet, N Yunnan, SW Sichuan

Habitat 3,300–4,500 m

RHS Hardiness Rating H6

Awards AGM 1993

Conservation status Least concern (LC)

Taxonomic note R. saluenense is closely allied to R. calostrotum (q.v.). Royal Horticultural Society (1997)

An evergreen shrub 112 to 4 ft high; young shoots scaly and conspicuously bristly. Leaves oblong to oval, with a distinct mucro at the abruptly tapered or rounded apex and a bristly scaly stalk 112 in. long, 34 to 1 in. long, 14 to 12 in. wide, dark glossy green with minute scales above, more tawny, paler and scaly beneath. Flowers produced in April and May in pairs or threes from the end of the shoot; pedicels 14 to 12 in. long, bristly and scaly. Calyx 13 in. wide, with five ovate, conspicuously fringed lobes. Corolla rosy-purple or purplish crimson with darker spots, widely open, 112 to 134 in wide, with five broad, rounded, overlapping lobes, very scaly and softly downy outside; downy in the throat. Stamens ten, purplish, with a tuft of down at the base. Ovary densely scaly; style glabrous. Bot. Mag., t. 9095. (s. Saluenense)

R. saluenense was discovered by the Abbé Soulié in 1894 on the Salween-Mekong divide, near the French Mission station at Tseku, and was later found in other parts of N.W. Yunnan and bordering areas of S.E. Tibet; introduced by Forrest in 1914. It is the tallest-growing and largest-leaved of the series to which it gives its name, and useful to provide height in a planting of dwarf species. Some forms are low-growing and scarcely to be distinguished from R. chameunum. It is perfectly hardy. It received an Award of Merit when shown from Exbury by Lionel de Rothschild on April 17, 1945.

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

subsp. chameunum (Balf.f. & Forr.) Cullen – See R. chameunum, mentioned under R. saluenense on page 760. According to Dr Cullen, it differs from the typical subspecies only in being prostrate or decumbent, and in having leaves glossy and without scales above, and without bristles at the edge of the blade. It is much commoner in the wild than subsp. saluenense. In this subspecies, he includes R. prostratum, plants so named being only high altitude forms of it (Rev. 1, pp. 117–18).

R chameunum Balf. f. & Forr.

R. cosmetum Balf. f. & Forr.
R. cbaridotes Balf. f. & Farrer

As Davidian has pointed out in his revision of the Saluenense series, this species really differs from R. saluenense only in its smaller leaves up to {7/8} in. long, sparsely scaly above, and its dwarfer habit, and is linked to it by intermediates.

R prostratum W. W. Sm

When Sir William Wright Smith described this species he remarked it was very near indeed to R. saluenense – so near that he hesitated to separate it by anything more than a varietal name. It differs in the smaller leaves, less than 1 in. long, and in the prostrate or hummocked habit. It occurs at high altitudes in S.W. Szechwan and N.W. Yunnan; the type was collected on the Litiping near the upper limit of vegetation at 15,000 to 16,000 ft. It is suitable for the rock garden and quite hardy, though inferior to R. radicans and R. keleticum. It is figured in Bot. Mag., t. 8747.

subsp. chameunum (Balf.f. & Forrest) Cullen

R. chameunum Balf.f. & Forrest
R. prostratum W.W.Sm.

Prostrate or decumbent shrub, rarely to 1m; upper surface of leaves usually glossy and lacking scales, without setae.

Distribution NE Burma, China (N & NW Yunnan, SE Tibet, SW Sichuan).

Habitat 3,500–4,500m.

subsp. saluenense

Erect shrub, to 1.5m; upper surface of leaves persistently scaly and usually setose.

Distribution NE Burma, China (NW Yunnan, SE Tibet).

Habitat 3,300–4,400m.

Awards AM 1965 (L. de Rothschild, Exbury); flowers Rhodamine Purple.

Subsp. saluenense is intermediate between subsp. chameunum and R. calostrotum subsp. riparium and occupies a restricted area where their ranges overlap.