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 11⁄2 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 1⁄12 in. long, 3⁄4 to 1 in. long, 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 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 1⁄4 to 1⁄2 in. long, bristly and scaly. Calyx 1⁄3 in. wide, with five ovate, conspicuously fringed lobes. Corolla rosy-purple or purplish crimson with darker spots, widely open, 11⁄2 to 13⁄4 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.
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. cosmetum Balf. f. & Forr.
R. cbaridotes Balf. f. & Farrer
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).
Erect shrub, to 1.5m; upper surface of leaves persistently scaly and usually setose.
Distribution NE Burma, China (NW Yunnan, SE Tibet).
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.