Large shrub or small tree, 2-10 m. Leaves 8-22 x 3.3-6.5 cm, oblanceolate to oblong, lower surface with a 1-2 layered silvery indumentum, the upper layer (when present) composed of more or less floccose dendroid hairs, the lower layer compacted. Flowers 6-30, in a dense truss, white to pale pink, with crimson flecks and a purple basal blotch, campanulate, nectar pouches lacking, 30-35 mm; ovary glabrous. Flowering March-April. Royal Horticultural Society (1997)
Distribution China S Tibet, NW Yunnan, SW Sichuan
Habitat (2,100)-3,000-4,000 m
RHS Hardiness Rating H5
Conservation status Least concern (LC)
An evergreen shrub 15 to 25 ft high; young shoots stout and as much as 3⁄8 in. thick, grey-downy. Leaves stout and leathery, obovate or oblanceolate, blunt or almost rounded at the apex, long-tapered at the base; 3 to 10 in. long, 11⁄2 to 23⁄4 in. wide, dark green and soon glabrous above, covered beneath with a close white, grey, or fawn felt; stalk 1⁄2 to 1 in. long. Flowers in a compact rounded truss of ten to fifteen, opening in spring. Calyx very small. Corolla bell-shaped, five-lobed, 11⁄2 in. long, rosy white to pale rose, with a crimson blotch at the base and similarly coloured spots on the upper side. Stamens ten, minutely downy at the base, white with dark brown anthers, ovary slender, glabrous or with a little down, tapered at the top to the glabrous style. Bot. Mag., t. 9480. (s. Fulvum)
R. uvariifolium is a species of wide range, from the Yungning area, on the borders between N.W. Yunnan and Szechwan westward to the region of the Tsangpo bend at the eastern end of the Himalaya, at altitudes of 7,000 to 13,000 ft. It was discovered by Forrest in 1904 on the ascent from the Yangtse to the Chungtien plateau and introduced by him in 1913. It is closely allied to R. fulvum, which has a less woolly brown or yellow tomentum.
The Award of Merit was given on April 13, 1965, to the clone ‘Yangtse Bend’, exhibited by the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh.
It was mentioned that R. uvariifolium extends to the region of the Tsangpo Bend at the eastern end of the Himalaya. Some collections by Ludlow, Sherriff and Elliot from this area were described by Dr Cowan as var. griseum, differing in the closely matted leaf-indumentum and the rounded leaf-bases. This variety is not recognised in the Edinburgh revision, but plants agreeing with it could be distinguished as the Griseum group (Rev. 2, p. 368; Cox, The Larger Species of Rhododendron, p. 182).
Kingdon Ward 6311, identified as ‘R. coryanum var.’ in the R.H.S. Handbook, is R. uvariifolium.
Leaf base rounded, indumentum compacted.
These two varieties are poorly delineated from one another though there is some correlation between the morphological differences and the geographical distributions of the two taxa.
Leaves oblanceolate, cuneate at base, indumentum floecose.
Awards AM 1965 (Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh) to a clone ‘Yangtze Bend’; flowers rose-pink, spotted and blotched Indian Lake. AM 1976 (Royal Botanic Gardens, Wakehurst) to a clone ‘Reginald Childs’; flowers white, suffused red-purple and with a red blotch.