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Rhododendron veitchianum Hook.

Modern name

Rhododendron veitchianum Hook.

An evergreen shrub up to 12 ft or so high in the wild, often epiphytic; young branchlets scaly, without bristles. Leaves leathery, narrowly obovate or elliptic-obovate, obtuse and acuminate at the apex, narrowed to the base, 2 to 4 in. long, 38 to 134 in. wide, scaly above when young, permanently scaly beneath, the scales spaced about their own diameter apart or slightly more widely; petiole up to 12 in. long. Flowers in terminal trusses of up to five, on scaly stalks about 38 in. long. Calyx very short, often with a few slender hairs on the margin, scaly near the base. Corolla five-lobed, widely funnel-shaped, 212 to 3 in. long, more in width, white, slightly tinged with green outside, the lobes (in the type) with crinkled margins, scaly on the outside, mostly on the upper (adaxial) side of the tube, which is also slightly downy on the outside near the base. Stamens ten, downy towards the base. Ovary scaly; style scaly near the base. Bot. Mag., t. 4992. (s. Maddenii ss. Ciliicalyx)

Native of the mountains of lower and central Burma, Thailand, and Laos; introduced by Thomas Lobb for Messrs Veitch from the mountains east of Moulmein and first exhibited by them in May 1857. In the plant shown the corolla-lobes were strongly crinkled, but this is probably not a characteristic of the species as a whole. Seeds from self-pollinated flowers produce many plants with smooth-edged lobes, which used to be known in gardens as var. laevigatum. Some plants are intermediate, with undulated lobes.

R. veitchianum is too tender to be grown outdoors even in the mildest parts of the country. It is mentioned here only because it is one of the oldest members of the Ciliicalyx subseries, in which other, closely allied and somewhat hardier species will probably be included when the group is revised. Its flowering time under glass is late spring and early summer.

R. cubittii Hutch. – Near to R. veitchianum, but with the young stems somewhat bristly and the leaves oblong or oblong-lanceolate, bristly on the margins. The corolla is more richly coloured, being deep pink outside along the ribs, white or light pink inside, with a flare of brownish-crimson or orange-yellow markings. It is also near to R. formosum, but in that species, as in R. veitchianum, the leaves are oblanceolate to obovate, and the corolla is scaly all over on the outside, whereas in R. cubittii there are only a few scales on the adaxial side. Bot. Mag., t. 9502. This species was described from a small scrap collected by G. Cubitt in the Bhamo Division of northern Burma in 1909, and was otherwise unknown until exhibited from Trengwainton, Cornwall, in March 1935, when it received an Award of Merit. The plant there, which still exists, had been planted against a garden wall two years previously, and was then 6 ft high and more in width. Although tender, R. cubittii is grown outdoors in several other gardens in the milder parts (see Journ. R.H.S., Vol. 86, fig. 94). It is one of the finest members of the Maddenii series, with beautifully formed flowers, slightly crisped at the margin, and a smooth purplish-brown bark. The F.C.C. was given in 1962 to clone ‘Ashcombe’, exhibited by the Crown Estate Commissioners, Windsor Great Park.

R. inaequale (C. B. CI.) Hutch. R. formosum var. inaequale C. B. CI. – Near to R. veitchianum, but the leaves are narrowly elliptic, oblong-elliptic, or oblanceolate-elliptic, mostly less than 112 in. wide, the calyx is downy, the corolla has a large yellow or chartreuse blotch on the inside, and the fruit is obliquely ellipsoid to obliquely oblong-ovoid, not cylindric as in R. veitchianum. Bot. Mag., n.s.,t. 295. Native of Assam, discovered by Griffith in 1837 on the Kollong Rock in the Khasi Hills and described from fruiting specimens collected by Hooker and Thomson in the same locality thirteen years later. The flowers were not known until Kingdon Ward introduced the species from Mt Japvo in the Naga Hills in 1927 (KW 7717). It is also in cultivation from seeds collected by Cox and Hutchison in the Khasi Hills in 1965. It is tender, but perhaps hardier than R. veitchianum.

R. taronense Hutch. – This imperfectly known species was described from a specimen collected by Kingdon Ward in November 1922 in the valley of the Taron (Kiuchiang), on the borders between Yunnan and north-east Burma. The flowers were not fully expanded, which may explain the shortness of the corolla-tube in the dried specimen (only 34 in. long). Whether this species is in cultivation it is impossible to say. The plant at Exbury, which received a First Class Certificate when shown as R. taronense in 1935, is also figured in Bot. Mag., n.s., t. 1, and was raised from Forrest’s 27687. The field-specimen under this number has been identified as R. taronense, but the Exbury plant really agrees much better with R. notatum Hutch., described from Kingdon Ward specimens collected in the Seinghku valley and Nam Tamai valley in N.W. upper Burma. However, the two species – R. taronense and R. notatum – are doubtfully distinct, and both are included in R. veitchianum by Sleumer.

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

The species mentioned under R. veitchianum on pages 795-6 are disposed of as follows in the Edinburgh revision:

{R. cubittii} – Included in R. veitchianum.

{R. inaequale} – See R. formosum var. inaequale in this supplement.

{R. taronense} – This species and R. notatum are both included in R. dendricola (see this supplement, under R. johnstoneanum). Dr Sleumer sunk both in R. veitchianum, whence their position in the main work.



Other species in the genus