An upright shrub, 0.6–4.5 m; young shoots covered with filiform hairs, also with setae with swollen bases. Leaves 2.5–9.5 × 0.6–4.5 cm, lanceolate to elliptic, upper surface bullate, with filiform hairs that persist only along midrib, lower surface scaly and with setae that are soon deciduous though with swollen bases persisting around the margins. Flowers (l-)2–5, in a loose axillary terminal inflorescence; calyx disc-like, densely pubescent; corolla crimson to yellowish, tubular, 17–23 mm; stamens 10, exserted; ovary scaly, densely tomentose, impressed below the declinate style. Flowering April-May. Royal Horticultural Society (1997).
Distribution China C & S Yunnan, Guizhou
Habitat (800–)1,800–2,500 m
RHS Hardiness Rating H4
Awards AM 1974 (N.T. Holman, Chyverton, Truro) to a clone 'Jack Hext'; flowers red, paler below. AM 1977 (National Trust for Scotland, Brodick Castle Gardens) to a clone 'Blackwater'; flowers red, greenish white at base.
Conservation status Least concern (LC)
Taxonomic note This is a somewhat tender species that is generally distinctive on account of its tubular flowers, though some forms of R. scabrifolium do approach it. Only var. spinuliferum is known in cultivation. Royal Horticultural Society (1997).
An evergreen shrub 3 to 8 ft high, the young shoots covered with pale hairs and bristles. Leaves lanceolate or oblanceolate, pointed at the apex, wedge-shaped at the base, 11⁄2 to 21⁄4 in. long, 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. wide, somewhat hooded and puckered above, with a few hairs near the margin, scaly and hairy beneath; stalk 1⁄4 in. long. Flowers in clusters, terminal and from the upper leaf-axils, opening in April; pedicels downy, about 1⁄4 in. long. Calyx very short, downy. Corolla tubular, usually brick-red, about 1 in. long and 1⁄2 in. wide, the five ovate lobes being erect or pressing inwards round the ten glabrous stamens which protrude about 1⁄4 in. beyond them. Ovary and base of style downy. Bot. Mag., t. 8408. (s. Scabrifolium)
Native of Yunnan, China; discovered by Delavay, and introduced to France by Maurice de Vilmorin in 1907, thence to Kew in 1910. The fears at first expressed as to its probable tenderness have not been borne out by experience. At Kew it has proved to be quite hardy. In the tubular shape of the corolla, which narrows rather than expands towards the mouth, the species resembles R. keysii.