An evergreen shrub 4 to 10 ft high; young shoots thinly felted and glandular. Leaves leathery, 3 to 8 in. long, 1 to 2 in. wide, oblong-oblanceolate with an acute point, tapered to a cuneate base, glabrous above, but covered beneath with a close, greyish felt; stalk 1⁄2 to 1 in. long, felted. Flowers pale rose, usually speckled within, 21⁄2 to 3 in. across, produced in April in rather loose terminal racemose clusters, the rachis up to 2 in. long. Calyx-lobes oblong, ciliate, 1⁄8 to 1⁄4 in. long. Corolla broadly funnel-campanulate, with five rounded lobes. Stamens ten, as long as the corolla, hairy at the base. Ovary densely clad with long-stalked glands. Style glabrous.
Native of Central China; discovered by the French missionary Farges in N.E. Szechwan; introduced by Wilson in 1900 from W. Hupeh when collecting for Messrs Veitch. A year later Farges sent seeds to M. Vilmorin, and it first flowered in a greenhouse at Les Barres in 1909. According to Wilson it is rare in western Hupeh, known to him from only two or three localities in the Hsing-shan district, where it grows in thin woods at 5,000 to 7,000 ft. Because of its racemose inflorescence, it is placed in the Caucasicum subseries of the Ponticum series, and certainly it appears to be more closely allied to R. smirnowii of N.E. Asiatic Turkey than to any Chinese rhododendron. It is rather a dull rhododendron, but it was admired by Gerald Loder and received an Award of Merit on April 7, 1926, when shown by him from his garden at Wakehurst Place, Sussex.