An evergreen shrub of sparse habit and thin, wiry, erect or spreading branches, 2 to 3 ft high; young wood scurfy. Leaves slightly aromatic when crushed, 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. long, 1⁄6 to 1⁄4 in. wide, narrowly oblong-obovate, dark green above, pale beneath, scaly on both sides, the scales beneath pale at first, darkening as the leaf ages; petiole very short. Flowers borne in a small terminal cluster of mostly three to five; pedicels up to 1⁄4 in. long, scaly. Calyx with five small, angular lobes, scaly, sometimes ciliate. Corolla rosy purple or rose, rotate-funnel-shaped, 1⁄2 to 3⁄4 in. across, slightly hairy in the throat, lobes five, rounded. Stamens ten, hairy towards the base. Ovary densely scaly, style glabrous, longer than the stamens. Bot. Mag., t. 9229. (s. Lapponicum)
Native of N.E. Asia from E. Siberia to the Russian Far East, south to N.E. China, N. Korea, Sakhalin, and the north island of Japan (Hokkaido); also of the Aleutians and Alaska; introduced to Britain soon after 1877. It is allied to R. lapponicum and. has often been supplied for it, but is distinguished by the larger leaves, the ten stamens with filaments hairy towards the base (five to eight, filaments hairy only at the very base in R. lapponicum), and usually by the taller growth. It blossoms early, from January to March according to the mildness or otherwise of the weather.
f. albiflorum Herder – Flowers white.
f. alpinum Glehn R. confertissimum Nakai – A procumbent form from alpine elevations and exposed habitats.