A bushy evergreen shrub up to 10 ft high, or a small tree up to 25 ft high; young shoots purplish, clothed with bristles up to 1⁄4 in. long and gland-tipped. Leaves ovate-oblong, rounded or heart-shaped at the base, slenderly pointed, 3 to 61⁄2 in. long, 11⁄2 to 3 in. wide, dark green above, paler green and bristly on the midrib but not on the veins beneath, margins bristly; stalk up to 1 in. long, very glandular-bristly. Flowers produced in April in compact trusses about 4 in. across. Calyx five-lobed, the lobes 3⁄8 to 1⁄2 in. long, glandular-bristly like the flower-stalk, which is 1⁄2 to 1 in. long. Corolla bell-shaped, 11⁄2 to 2 in. wide, white or pale rose with usually a blotch of purple at the base, five-lobed, the lobes rounded and notched in the middle. Stamens ten, varying from half to nearly as long as the corolla, downy towards the base. Ovary and base of style glandular-bristly. (s. Barbatum ss. Glischrum)
R. habrotrichum was discovered by Forrest in 1912 on the Shweli-Salween divide, near the border between Yunnan and Burma, and appears to be mainly confined to that area (Kingdon Ward’s 3042, collected in Burma about 50 miles farther north, is probably R. habrotrichum, however). It flowered at Kew in April 1920. Whether this species and R. glischrum are really specifically distinct is very much to be doubted. But the latter, at least in its typical form, is distinguished from R. habrotrichum by its longer, relatively narrower and more tapered leaves, with shorter bristles more or less all over the undersurface.
Its garden value is the same as that of R. glischrum and R. glischroides. A pink-flowered form received an Award of Merit on May 2, 1933, when shown by the Sunningdale Nurseries.