An evergreen shrub 3 to 6 ft high, of bushy habit, and usually wider than it is high; young branches, leaves, flower-stalks, and calyx covered with reddish-brown scurf or scales. Leaves oval or oblong, 1 to 3 in. long, 1⁄3 to 3⁄4 in. wide; margins recurved; upper surface dark dull green, lower one glaucous white or sometimes pale brown when young; stalk 1⁄8 to 1⁄3 in. long. The leaf when crushed has a strong, rather resinous odour. Flowers 3⁄4 to 11⁄4 in. wide, rosy red, produced during May in terminal clusters of usually five or six (sometimes eight to ten). Calyx large, with five ovate, pointed lobes, 1⁄3 in. long, scaly outside. Corolla bell-shaped, with five spreading, rounded lobes, slightly scaly outside; Stamens ten, downy at the base. Style straight or bent. Bot. Mag., t. 4721. (s. and ss. Glaucophyllum)
Native of the Himalaya from E. Nepal eastward at 10,000 to 12,000 ft; introduced by J. D. Hooker in 1850. It is quite hardy in a sheltered place, and pretty when well in bloom, though not showy. The hybrid ‘Rosy Bell’ derives from this species.
var. luteiflorum Davidian – Flowers clear yellow. This interesting and attractive variety was discovered by Kingdon Ward and his wife in 1953 during their expedition to the northern part of the Triangle, a region of upper Burma lying between the two main branches of the upper Irrawaddy, the Nmai Hka and the Mali Hka. When he first saw it the flowers were over and he took it to be ordinary R. glaucophyllum. ‘My surprise, therefore, was great when the bright November sunshine so warmed the fat winter buds of this little plant that they blurted into brief flower, revealing golden corollas! It was a brighter and better R. brachyanthum’ (Return to the Irrawaddy, p. 172). It was introduced by him the same year and was described in 1960.
A First Class Certificate was given in 1966 to a clone of the var. luteiflorum named ‘Glen Coy’, shown from the Brodick Castle Gardens, Isle of Arran (R.C.Y.B. 1967, Pl. 4).
var. tubiforme Cowan – Corolla tubular, style straight. Introduced by Ludlow and Sherriff from east Bhutan (L. & S. 2856).