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Species In Our Midst
Rhododendron recurvoides

by George Silverman

Rhododendron recurvoides
Picture by S & J Perkins
Rhododendron recurvoides in Concord, MA

Rhododendron recurvoides

Rhododendron recurvoides, whose name suggests its resemblance to Rhododendron recurvum (now Rhododendron roxieanum), is now in Subsection Glischra, a section closely related to Subsection Taliensia.

The plant was first discovered by Kingdon-Ward in July, 1926 in the valley of the Di Chu in Upper Burma. It was found growing scattered about on the sunniest of steep granite screes at an elevation of 11,000 feet.

Greer puts the height of Rhododendron recurvoides at two feet, while Davidian describes two forms, one compact at 2-3 feet, the other up to 5 feet high. The more dwarf form is considered the more desirable and is especially suitable for rock gardens.

Davidian believes the most striking feature of Rhododendron recurvoides is the densely bristly and glandular branchlets and petioles. The foliage is leathery, up to 3" long, strongly inrolled and pointed, with a pale indumentum, which turns later to orangy brown. The flowers are funnel-bell-shaped to 2 1/2 inches wide, are white, or white blushed rose, spotted crimson, and are held in compact trusses of 4-7.

Greer states that if the Taliense series is the Rolls Royce of rhododendrons, then this is a Silver Cloud. It was this description that made this writer rush to collect it. Thanks to the Species Foundation it has lived happily in Lexington, MA tolerating temperatures a bit lower than 10°F. Greer writes that it is hardy to -10°F. It has not yet bloomed for this writer.

Peter Cox says in his work, Dwarf Rhododendrons, that it would be an excellent candidate for hybridizing but as near as this writer can determine no one has risen to the bait. The other explanation is no one has gotten it to bloom since 1926!

George Silverman, Lexington, MA

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