An evergreen shrub or small tree 9 to 20 ft high; young shoots covered with a brownish-yellow felt, some of which remains till the following year. Leaves stout and leathery, oblong to oval, abruptly narrowed to a mucro at the apex, tapered to slightly heart-shaped at the base, 4 to 8 in. long, 11⁄2 to 3 in. wide, very dark green and glabrous above, clothed beneath with a richly cinnamon-coloured, red-brown, or fawn-coloured felt; midrib prominent, ultimately naked and pale. Flowers produced in March and April, up to twenty in a globose truss 4 in. wide. Calyx small, glabrous; flower-stalk 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. long. Corolla white to pale or bright rose with a fine crimson blotch at the base, bell-shaped, 11⁄2 in. long, five- or six-lobed, each lobe 3⁄5 in. long and nearly 1 in. wide. Stamens ten, very minutely downy at the base; anthers dark brown. Ovary and style glabrous. Bot. Mag., t. 9587. (s. Fulvum)
R. fulvum is a species of wide range, from the Muli area of S.W. Szechwan, through N.W. Yunnan, the Yunnan-Burma borderland, and S.E. Tibet as far as the eastern Himalaya, where Ludlow and Sherriff collected it in the Tibetan province of Chayul; it occurs mostly at 10,000 to 12,000 ft. Forrest discovered it in 1912 on the Shweli-Salween divide and sent home seeds many times from that year onwards. It is quite hardy. The flowers, without being more than ordinary, are attractive enough; the most striking character of the plant is the feltlike covering of the undersurface of the leaf. In Forrest’s 8989, his original importation, this is a rich brown-red, but it is sometimes pale fawn or bright cinnamon. There is also variation in the upper surface of the leaf. In some forms, e.g., F.25076, it is smooth and the margins are slightly recurved. In others, less striking, the surface is flat and the lateral veins are impressed.
A pink-flowered form received an Award of Merit when shown from Bodnant on April 4, 1933.