Kindly sponsored by
Peter Norris, enabling the use of The Rhododendron Handbook 1998
New article for Trees and Shrubs Online.
'Rhododendron superbum' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.
Shrub or small tree to 6 m, mostly epiphytic but terrestrial in open situations; young stems densely brown-stellate-scaly but quickly glabrescent. Leaves 8-12 x 4.5-8 cm, broadly elliptic to sub-ovate or sub-obovate, the apex broadly acute to obtuse, occasionally shortly acuminate, the margin slightly recurved, the base broadly tapering, rounded to rarely subcordate; the upper surface at first with brown dendroid scales, quickly glabrescent leaving an almost smooth surface, midrib raised in the lower half to one third and grooved, slightly impressed in the upper part, lateral veins 5-8 pairs, smooth and rather obscure; lower surface with the midrib raised for most of its length, the laterals smooth and often obscure, at first fairly densely covered in brown dendroid scales from rather low epidermal tubercles. Flowers 3-5 per umbel, horizontal to half-hanging; calyx a low, lobed, densely scaly disc; corolla white, cream, or various shades of pink, often with darker pink marks at the base of the lobes, deliciously and powerfully carnation scented, funnel-shaped or very broadly trumpet-shaped, the lobes usually 6-7, occasionally 5, 5-14 x 9-12 cm, sparsely scaly outside; stamens twice the number of corolla lobes, mostly scattered round the basal 2/3 of the mouth of the flower; ovary densely covered with reddish brown deeply lobed scales, the style scaly in the basal 1/4 or completely glabrous. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
Distribution Papua New Guinea widespread on the main ranges
Habitat 1,500-3,000 m
RHS Hardiness Rating H2
Conservation status Least concern (LC)
One of the most attractive species in the section, it is very close to R. hellwigii with which it probably hybridizes in the wild and the darker pink forms may be this hybrid. This species generally has a straight corolla tube and the stamens are less densely clustered than in R hellwigii, the nearly glabrous style separates this species from R. konori. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)