Rhododendron tanastylum Balf. f. & Ward

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Peter Norris, enabling the use of The Rhododendron Handbook 1998


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

Recommended citation
'Rhododendron tanastylum' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/rhododendron/rhododendron-tanastylum/). Accessed 2024-04-16.


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.
The inner whorl of the perianth. Composed of free or united petals often showy.
Lacking hairs smooth. glabrescent Becoming hairless.
Lance-shaped; broadest in middle tapering to point.
Inversely lanceolate; broadest towards apex.
Lowest part of the carpel containing the ovules; later developing into the fruit.
Generally an elongated structure arising from the ovary bearing the stigma at its tip.


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

Recommended citation
'Rhododendron tanastylum' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.org/articles/rhododendron/rhododendron-tanastylum/). Accessed 2024-04-16.

Shrub or small tree, 1–4(–10) m. Leaves coriaceous, 7.5–15 × 3–5 cm, elliptic to oblanceolate, apex acuminate, lower surface glabrous or with a thin veil of indumentum, also with persistent red punctate hair bases overlying the veins. Flowers 4–8, in a lax truss, deep pink to deep crimson, with black nectar pouches and few to many flecks, tubular-campanulate, 45–55 mm; ovary glabrous to rufous-tomentose and glandular, style glabrous. Flowering April-May. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)

Distribution  Myanmar NE China W Yunnan India Arunachal Pradesh

Habitat 1,850–3,350 m

RHS Hardiness Rating H3

Conservation status Least concern (LC)

An evergreen shrub varying from 8 to 20 ft high in the wild; young shoots soon becoming glabrous. Leaves elliptic-lanceolate or oblanceolate, tapered about equally towards both ends but terminated by a short slender point, 3 to 512 in. long, 1 to 134 in, wide, glabrous and green on both surfaces; stalk 12 to 58 in. long. Flowers borne during May in a racemose cluster of about eight; pedicels about 38 in. long. Calyx a mere wavy rim. Corolla tubular-campanulate, 2 in. long, 112 in. wide, deep crimson with darker spots, five-lobed, the lobes notched. Stamens ten, glabrous or slightly downy at the base; ovary and style glabrous, the latter much longer than the stamens and standing out well beyond the corolla. (s. and ss. Irroratum)

Native of the Yunnan-Burma borderland westward through upper Burma to the Mishmi Hills, Assam, and the region of the Tsangpo gorge; also of Thailand; discovered by Kingdon Ward above Hpimaw, upper Burma, and introduced by Farrer and Cox five years later from the same locality, where it grows at about 8,000 ft. In the typical form the flowers are crimson or crimson-scarlet, but other colours have been recorded by Kingdon Ward and Forrest in their field notes, e.g., ‘black crimson’, ‘light or dark amethyst purple’, or ‘morose purple’. It is found at altitudes between 6,000 and 11,ooo ft and is tender in some forms. It is not of much ornamental value, even the crimson forms having a hint of magenta in their colouring.

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

R. kendrickii – This species is now better known, thanks to recent gatherings in Bhutan. R. ramsdenianum, mentioned under it on page 782, is accepted by Dr Chamberlain as a distinct species, closely allied to R. kendrickii. It differs from it, however, only in its relatively broader leaves, and may be conspecific.

R kendrickii Nutt

This imperfectly known species was described by Nuttall in 1853 from a specimen collected by his nephew Thomas Booth in the Assam Himalaya, just east of the Bhutan frontier. The type-specimen is of foliage and fruit only, and no plant has been traced which is known for certain to have been raised from the seed Booth collected. The amplified description of R. kendrickii in Notes Roy. Bot. Gard. Edin., Vol. 10, pp. 107–8, is based mainly on specimens collected by Cooper in Bhutan. The leaves are leathery, relatively narrow, being up to 6 in. long but not much over 1 in. wide, with wavy margins, glabrous beneath except for flock on the midrib. Truss dense, many-flowered. Corolla pink and spotted in the Cooper specimens, but dark red and unspotted in Cox and Hutchison 416, collected in 1965 in the Apa Tani valley, some 120 miles east of the type-locality (the specimen under this number perfectly matches the type in foliage). Ovary sparsely hairy, sometimes glandular.In 1924 Kingdon Ward collected seed in the Tsangpo gorge of a rhododendron which, from the fruiting specimen, was identified as R. kendrickii, under which name the seed was distributed (KW 6284). However, a plant raised from this seed by Sir John Ramsden at Bulstrode Park was described by Cowan in 1936 as a new species – R. ramsdenianum. It is very near to R. kendrickii, however.

var. pennivenium (Balf.f. & Forrest) D.F.Chamb.

R. pennivenium Balf.f. & Forrest

Leaves with a persistent indumentum beneath; pedicels glandular. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)

Both varieties have been reported as being in cultivation though neither is at all common. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)

var. tanastylum

R. cerochitum Balf.f. & Forrest
R. ombrochares Balf.f. & Kingdon-Ward

Leaves at maturity more or less glabrous beneath; pedicels eglandular. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)