Rhododendron nivale ssp. australe

Description with 16 photos. Photo: Finn Bertelsen. A low (<1m), erect and compact, evergreen shrub. Apparently hardy. Young shoots covered by dark, short-stipitate, scales. Petiole with dark/light coloured, mixed scales, c. 2 mm. Leaf blade ovate to elliptic, to 9 mm, aromatic. Apex acute to acute-obtuse, with tiny mucro. Leaf base rounded cuneate. Leaf adaxial side shiny, green, with overlapping or touching, ligth coloured scales, 210-260 micrs. Leaf abaxial side fawn, with partly overlapping or touching scales, some light coloured (the majority), some dark brown, 140-180 micrs. in diam. Light : dark scales = c. 3:1. Bud scales (vegetative) densely lepidote with ligth scales. Inflorescence with (1) 2 – (3?)  flowers, from terminal buds. Pedicel 1-3 mm, scaly. Calyx with 5 lingulate, densely lepidote, ciliate lobes, c. 3mm. Corolla with 5 lobes, widely funnel-shaped to saucer shaped, with scarce external scales, with hairy throat, purple. Corolla lobes ovate. Ovary c. 2 mm, conical, lepidote, with fine basal hairs, with 5 loculi. Stamens (9)10 (11), purple, proximally pubescent. Style red-purple, glabrous, straight, to 5 mm, with swollen, bullate stigma. Capsule ovoid, lepidote, to 4.5 mm. Seeds  with tiny floating appendages  and narrow wings, 650-830 micrs.. Locality of origin (FB15-2019): Kang Wu, Muli County, Sichuan, China, at 3560 m. Native habitat: SW Sichuan, C and NW Yunnan, China at 3100-4500 m according to Flora of China. Remarks:In the literature (for instance the Key for Lapponica in FoC) Rh. nivale with ssp is commonly described to be mucronate (“apex usually not mucronate”). However, the photo of the holotype of the australe subspecies in the RBGE herbarium (No. 25707, Forrest 1924) shows mucronate leaves on the sample in the upper, left corner. The occurrence of mucronate leaves in FB15-2019 has therefore not been considered an obstacle for a determination to Rh. nivale ssp. australe. Ssp. australe is known for its acute leaves and ciliate calyx lobes.