Kindly sponsored by
Peter Norris, enabling the use of The Rhododendron Handbook 1998
Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles
'Rhododendron triflorum' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online (treesandshrubsonline.
Straggling shrub, (0.5–)1–5(–7) m; young shoots scaly, mature bark smooth and peeling, reddish brown. Leaves usually evergreen, 3.8–6.5 × 2–3.2 cm, ovate to lanceolate or elliptic, apex acute, upper surface lacking scales, glabrous, lower surface greyish brown, densely covered with small almost rimless brown scales. Flowers 2–4, in a loose terminal inflorescence; calyx small, scaly, not ciliate; corolla pale yellow, sometimes suffused with red, sometimes with greenish to red flecks, zygomorphic, funnel-shaped to widely funnel-shaped, 21–30 mm, outer surface densely scaly, pubescent at sinuses; stamens 10; ovary scaly, impressed below the declinate, glabrous or (rarely) puberulent at base, style. Flowering May-June. Royal Horticultural Society (1997).
Distribution Bhutan Myanmar N China S Tibet India Bengal, Manipur
Habitat 2,300–3,650 m
RHS Hardiness Rating H5
Conservation status Least concern (LC)
An evergreen shrub 6 to 10 ft high with glabrous, red, peeling bark; young shoots slender, glaucous, scaly. Leaves ovate-lanceolate, rounded at the base, sharply pointed, 2 to 3 in. long, 1 to 11⁄4 in. broad, bright green and glabrous above, glaucous and thickly furnished with scales beneath; stalk 1⁄4 to 1⁄3 in. long. Flowers fragrant, opening in May and June, usually in threes, at the end of the shoot when young growths are pushing. Calyx small, shallowly undulated; flower-stalks 1⁄2 to 7⁄8 in. long. Corolla pale yellow spotted with green, with a short funnel-shaped tube and five spreading oblong lobes giving the flower a diameter of 11⁄2 to 2 in., scaly outside. Stamens ten, 1⁄2 to 1 in. long, downy towards the base; ovary scaly; style longer than stamens, glabrous. (s. and ss. Triflorum)
Native of the eastern Himalaya; discovered by J. D. Hooker in the Sikkim Himalaya in 1849 and introduced by him. It is not a showy plant, although the flowers are interesting in their unusual colour. The red, semi-transparent, loose bark is also attractive with sunlight behind it. It is hardy.
The var. mahogani is not recognised in the Edinburgh revision, understandably so, as it is only a minor colour-form linked to the typical state by intermediates.
var. bauhiniiflorum (Hutch.) Cullen R. bauhiniiflorum Hutch. – The only distinguishing character of this variety is the widely expanded flower.
R. bauhiniiflorum Watt ex Hutch.
Corolla very openly funnel-shaped to almost flat. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
RHS Hardiness Rating: H5
The two varieties recognized here are distinguished only by the shape of the corolla. They apparently have different geographical distributions. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
Corolla funnel-shaped to widely funnel-shaped.
Distribution Nepal, India (Sikkim, W Bengal, Arunachal Pradesh), Bhutan, N Burma, China (S Tibet).
Taxonomic note (incl. R. triflorum Hook.f. var. maltogani Hutch.)