Rhododendron polylepis

Description with 24 photos. Photo: Finn Bertelsen. A shrub with a very upright growth, evergreen. Young shoots reddish, lengthy, densely lepidote. Petiole densely scaly with dark scales, 5-6 mm. Leaf blade oblong lanceolate, typically arched, with more or less revolute margins, with depressed veins and midrib, leathery,  to 10 x 2.1 cm. Apex acute, with mucro. Leaf base cuneate. Leaf adaxial side dark green, glabrous, shiny, with scattered scales, to be shed. Leaf abaxial side grey green with a rusty tinge, densely scaly. Scales in part overlapping to ½ x the diameter apart. Two types of scales: some smaller, light brown, about 230 micrs. (the majority) and some larger, dark brown, 340-500 micrs. (scattered). Inflorescence an umbel with 3-5 flowers, from terminal buds. Flower bud spindle-shaped, bud scales scaly, with fine marginal hairs. Pedicel scaly, red, to 16 mm. Calyx reddish, densely scaly with clear scales, with rounded lobes, 1.5 mm. Corolla with 5 lobes, open funnel-shaped, zygomorphic with  acute ovate lobes, purple to bleached purple, spotted, with external scattered scales, 30-35 mm wide, c. 25 mm deep. Ovary pentagonally conical, densely scaly, with fine, dense, distal bristles, with 5 locules, c. 4.5 mm. Stamens 10, unequal in lenght. Filaments pubescent towards base, longer than the corolla, purple. Style slightly pubescent at base, otherwise glabrous, upwards bent, brownish, c. 25 mm, with turbinate stigma, 1 mm. Capsule slightly conical to cylindrical, densely lepidote and with fine distal bristles, c. 12 mm. Seeds  with poorly developed floating appendages, 0.7 – 1.0 mm. Native habitat: S Gansu, S Shaanxi, N to SW Sichuan, China at 1500-3300 m according to Flora of China efloras org.