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Rhododendron eriogynum Balf. f. & W. W. Sm.

Modern name

Rhododendron facetum Balf. f. & Kingdon-Ward

An evergreen shrub up to 10 ft high; young shoots soon glabrous. Leaves oblong-elliptic or oblanceolate, the apex pointed or rounded; 4 to 8 in. long, 114 to 3 in. wide, ultimately glabrous on both surfaces, glittering beneath; with a thin transparent marginal line; stalk 12 to 114 in. long. Flowers in a truss of twelve to sixteen, opening in June. Calyx 15 in. long, fleshy, reddish, the lobes wavy. Corolla bell-shaped, 134 in. deep, 2 in. wide, clear bright red with five deep purple pouches at the base, five-lobed. Stamens ten, 1 in. or more long, downy at the lower third or half. Ovary densely covered with tawny, starry down, which extends more thinly up the style. Bot. Mag., t. 9337. (s. Irroratum ss. Parishii)

R. eriogynum was discovered by Forrest in the Tali range, Yunnan, in 1914, and was introduced by him in the same year. All the cultivated plants derive from this one sending (F.13508). This beautiful species has flowered in gardens south of London and has attained 15 ft at Wakehurst Place in Sussex. Like its allies (see R. elliottii and R. kyawii) it flowers and comes into growth late in the season and is the parent of many late-flowering hybrids, such as Romany Chal and the incomparable Tally Ho.

Award of Merit June 24, 1924, when shown by T. H. Lowinsky of Sunninghill, Berks.

R. facetum Balf. f. & Ward – This species is very closely akin to, and probably not specifically distinct from, R. eriogynum. Kingdon Ward discovered it below the Feng-shui-ling pass, on the border between Burma and Yunnan, in June 1914 (Kingdon Ward, In Farthest Burma, p. 60). Farrer and Cox found it five years later from Hpimaw Hill, a little to the north of the Feng-shui-ling pass, growing 20 to 30 ft high in deep woodland at 8,500 to 9,000 ft, with flowers ‘of so dazzling a pure light rose-scarlet as to numb one’s sight for some minutes after looking away from it’ (Cox, Farrers Last Journey, p. 226). They collected seeds in the autumn, but in the previous May Forrest or one of his Chinese collectors found a plant in fruit even nearer to the type-locality, so he was the first to introduce it.

R. facetum comes from a moister region than R. eriogynum and its leaves are somewhat thinner in texture. It is also more tender. The main and secondary flower-stalks are more or less glandular; they are not so in R. eriogynum. R. facetum received an Award of Merit on July 5, 1938, when shown by Admiral Heneage-Vivian, Clyne Castle, Swansea.

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

This species was given the main heading because plants under its name are commoner than those grown as R. facetum, mentioned under it. Understandably, the two species have been merged in the Edinburgh revision, but under the name R. facetum. The two species were described originally in the same issue of the Edinburgh Notes, and R. eriogynum could have been chosen as the name for the combined species, even though R. facetum has page-priority.



Other species in the genus