Douglas Justice contributes today’s photos and article. Thank you, Douglas.
These are two of a large number of seedlings derived from collections made in 1994 by the late Peter Wharton, former curator of the David C. Lam Asian Garden. Peter traveled to northern Guizhou, China, in the autumn of that year, where he visited the Dashahe Cathaya Reserve. Peter’s notes reveal that this area was exceptionally rich in temperate species and he collected a large quantity of seed, mostly at between 1300 m and 1600 m elevation (see also the June 26, 2005 Botany Photo of the Day entry for Carrierea calycina). Curiously, Rhododendron glanduliferum is not a species listed in the Flora of China as occurring outside of Yunnan, but again, Peter’s notes make mention of the several handsome specimens in the reserve over 20 m tall from which he collected seed. All of our plants are exceptionally robust and are now about 3 m tall and tree-like. The handsome 20-25 cm × 5-6 cm leaves are dark, matt green above and light green to glaucous beneath. On at least some of the individuals the margin of the leaf is minutely serrated and somewhat cartilagenous.
In Vancouver, Rhododendron glanduliferum generally produces its flowers in June. The large trusses of between 5 and 13 flowers open slowly and somewhat randomly over the plants. While most of our plants are at some stage of blooming now, we have a few May-flowering individuals and a number that have not yet begun to open their buds. The 8-9 cm wide flowers are usually white or soft pink and fading, and are fragrant, smelling strongly and pleasantly of wintergreen to most noses. The pedicels (flower stalks), corolla and calyx, as well as the ovary and style are all covered in stalked glands, hence the epithet glanduliferum (bearing glands).