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Species Rhododendron Descriptions By Name
R. taliense

Here’s a plant with a distinctive fragrance!  The leaves – not the flowers – give off a sweet smell noticeable on warm days. This wonderful foliage plant has distinctive, spongy indumentum (leaf underside) which starts out green and later turns bronzy orange. Very slow growing, this rhody will make a magnificent compact shrub, growing to

four feet in 10 years. It's native to the Tali Range of Yunnan,

This rhododendron will like a bright location, but not full sun. A north-facing location is perfect. It’s best to keep the roots as cool as possible. Good drainage is essential. It's hardy to -10° Fahrenheit.

R. tephropeplum

R. tephropeplum is a delightful smaller plant for a sunnier location. Its glossy dark green leaves give year-round pleasure and its pinky purple dangling flowers come in abundance in April. (Tephropeplum means conspicuous). With time, the trunk develops a peeling reddish bark.

R. tephropeplum comes from SE Tibet, northern Myanmar, Yunnan and Arunachal Pradesh. Our form comes from our 2000 seed collection in Yunnan. (That’s Mom showing  off in the picture).


Give it a sunny spot, but don’t bake it in hot afternoon sun. Small amounts of fertilizer on Valentine’s Day and  Mother’s Day. It wants gentle but consistent watering with well-aerated (loose) soil with good drainage. It responds well to pinching and pruning. It is hardy to around 5° F and may reach three feet in ten years.

R. thomsonii

Here’s an upright shrub or small tree whose smooth and peeling bark comes in shades of reddish brown and gray.  It produces bright, red flowers.


Named for Thomas Thomson (1817-1878), superintendent of the Calcutta Botanic Garden, this plant has been in cultivation in western gardens since 1850.  Its native habitat is Northern India, Tibet and Sikkim.

R. thomsonii prefers shelter from winds, and can take a fair amount of sun.  The rounded leaves make it distinct from most other rhododendrons.  Hardy to 5° F.

R. trichanthum

R. trichanthum is a late-blooming member of the Triflora subsection. The flower color will vary from dark reddish purple to paler bluish mauve. The flowers may or may not have a green or brown flare.


The foliage and new growth are among the best of the subsection with lots of hairs on the leaf, the petiole and the pedicel. Like most Triflora, R. trichanthum can put on a spectacular flower show.

R. trichanthum becomes a dense, upright shrub, reaching 5 -6 feet in ten years. It responds to pruning that will help it stay compact. Good drainage will help it avoid leaf spot.

R. tsaii

This is a very new dwarf Alpine introduction, whose forbears originate in areas of Yunnan overlooking the Yangtze River. 


The delicate lavender to pale-purple, funnel-shaped flowers cover the plant in the spring.  Lately we've run into a white blooming form as well. Because of its unusually small leaves, this low-growing and mounding evergreen plant will enjoy a sunny spot and we think it would be lovely in a rock garden!  It appears to be quite easy to grow.

R. tsariense

A GEM of a dwarf, this rhody has it all – a small stature, wonderful persistent indumentum, soft pink flowers, and a naturally branching form that makes it a year round winner. 


It is native to Tibet, Bhutan and Arunachal Pradesh and is very slow growing.  Free flowering, it’s hard to decide whether the foliage or the blossoms are the best part.

R. tsariense might grow to four feet in thirty years.  It likes mixed sun and shade but wants light.  The indumentum persists, both on the top and the bottom of the leaves.  It’s part of a distinct group of three species. R. lanatum and R, lanatoides are its nearest relatives. Hardy to -5° F.

R. uvarifolium

R. uvarifolium  makes a stately shrub that announces its presence with rugose, deep green foliage that has a gloss on the upper side and a white to grey indumentum on the under side.  Flowers are a rich pink and are held in a tight truss that sits comfortably atop such regal foliage.


Parents for these plants are from seed that was collected in China by Warren Berg and June Sinclair in the 1980s.  Now these youngsters reflect the rich heritage.

R. uvarifolium  may reach six feet in ten years.  It responds to pinching, so you can control how upright or broad it becomes. It's hardy to 0° Fahrenheit.


Rhododendrons in the wild are under constant environmental threat – so YOU can be a part of preserving the gene pool of this magnificent plant.  AND, its regal bearing will stand out in your garden!

R. vernicosum

R. vernicosum will form a rounded shrub reaching 4 - 5 feet in ten years. Because of its wide distribution in China, the flower color can vary somewhat but stays in the soft pink to bright rose with stops in between. New growth can sport some flashy red leaf bracts. A tell-tale sign you have a real R. vernicosum is the red glands on the ovary of the flower. Even in the wild, this rhody will readily hybridize with other rhody species.

In its best forms, this plant is worth some garden space, and it's hardy to -10° F.

R. viridescens

Pale, yellow flowers bloom late (May, June) and reliably.  New branchlets are softly bristly.  R.viridescens is a small, low-growing shrub whose parents live in SE Tibet. The bluish green new growth foliage is stunning and it’s hardy  to -5° Fahrenheit.

Sometimes R. viridescens gets confused with R. mekongense which is deciduous, while R. viridescens is evergreen.

R. viscosum

Too bad this isn’t one of those scratch and sniff cards. The fragrance of this East Coast deciduous azalea will knock your socks off (or send you into ecstasy). Sweet and spicy, the aroma can fill a garden on a summer day since it blooms fairly late in the season in this northern form – mid June here in the Pacific Northwest. Our plants are from seed collected in the White Cedar Swamp of Cape Cod National Seashore. 

R. viscosum  is quite widespread along the East Coast in the lowlands from Maine to Florida and west to Texas! It is sometimes known as Swamp Honeysuckle. It was introduced into Europe by the 1680’s. It may reach five feet in ten years, but it responds well to being cut back.

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