If you want to have a species named in your honour, it sometimes helps to be in the right place at the right time–and have a career where your path will intersect with a plant explorer.
Rhododendron davidsonianum is named after a missionary doctor, Dr. W. Henry Davidson. In 1910, he was stationed in the western part of China’s Sichuan province. There, he administered treatment to an injured plant explorer, Ernest Henry Wilson. Wilson later named this rhododendron in his honour:
Named for Dr. W. Henry Davidson, of the Friends Foreign Mission, at Chengtu Fu, western Szech’uan, in grateful recognition of the important services which he rendered to me after my serious accident in the early autumn of 1910.
Presumably, this was the accident (as noted in the earlier-linked Wikipedia article):
In 1903 Wilson discovered the Regal lily [Lilium regale] in western Sichuan along the Min River. He revisited the site in 1908 and collected more bulbs, but most of these rotted while en route back to the Arnold Arboretum in Boston. In 1910 he again returned to the Min valley, but this time his leg was crushed during an avalanche of boulders as he was carried along the trail in his sedan chair. After setting his leg with the tripod of his camera, he was carried back to civilization on a three-day forced march. Thereafter he walked with what he called his “lily limp”. It was this third shipment of bulbs that successfully introduced the Regal Lily into cultivation in the United States.
Rhododendron davidsonianum is endemic to China’s Sichuan province, where it grows in coniferous forests, open forests, and thickets at elevations between 1500-3600m (4900-11800 ft.). Today’s photographs are from late last week (first image) and last year (second week of April) in UBC’s David C. Lam Asian Garden. If you’re a local reader, now is likely the best time to see the many colourful species of rhododendron in the garden this year.
Additional photographs are available from Hirsutum.info: Rhododendron davidsonianum and Oregon State University’s Landscape Plants: Rhododendron davidsonianum–this latter link also contains a brief description.