Rhododendron ericoides

Another entry written by Taisha:

This image of Rhododendrom ericoides is courtesy of Damon Tighe@Flickr (uploaded via the Botany Photo of the Day Flickr Pool). Thanks Damon!

Rhododendron ericoides is described as a shrub with slender branches holding linear leaves and red tubular-cylindric flowers that are collected into a small umbel. The species grows at elevations up to 4000 meters (on Mount Kinabalu).

Rhododendron is a genus with approximately a thousand species, so it is often useful for rhododendron researchers to recognize smaller groups within the genus. Eight subgenera are typically used, along with sections and subsections within these if necessary. Rhododendron ericoides is a member of the subgenus Rhododendron according to the latest (2008) research (PDF). Most older references will state it is a member of the subgenus Vireya, but Vireya is now considered a section of subg. Rhododendron, and Rhododendron ericoides actually belongs to a different section than Vireya: section Discovireya. See the linked PDF reference for the specific details that define the subgenera and sections, but for sect. Discovireya some of the properties include a tubular-cylindric corolla and the valves of its capsular fruit not twisting after dehiscence (opening).

The Vireya group of rhododendrons has often been the subject of biogeographic research (biogeography is a science that studies the spatial distributions of past and present organisms, and of related patterns of variation over the earth). This is in part because of the famed Wallace’s line intersecting the distribution of the group within Malesia (e.g.,, see Brown, GK, et al. 2006. Historical biogeography of section Vireya and the Malesian Archipelago. Journal of Biogeography. 33(11):1929-1944).

Rhododendron ericoides

14 responses to “Rhododendron ericoides”

  1. Elizabeth Revell

    That is so amazing – what a difference from mainline rhodos! Indeed, what a difference from Vireyas.
    I gather from the grey stems in the background that this is a shrub inclined to look rather dead except at its growing tips.
    And all those divisions among genera and subgenera … the plant world gets more complex every day. Fascinating.

  2. elizabeth Parnis

    Wonderful Christmas flower! very interesting too botanically. Could use it for a card??

  3. Damon Tighe

    The grey stems aren’t actually dead. The main stems all were grey and the green leaves errupt from the tips of them. The interesting thing about Mount Kinabalu is that you drop down a couple hundred meters in elevation you have rhodos more similar to mainland north america at least superficially in size a flower shape. The Rhododendrom ericoides grows in cracks in a very exposed granite area: http://www.flickr.com/photos/damon_tighe/11019959066/in/set-72157637953675086
    I’m still blown away that they make it up there!

  4. Fred Bess

    Damon, Really fantastic photographs. Sorry, but first words out of my mouth when I saw the picture were “Holy Wow!” When I saw the genus, I expected a boring old “Rhodo” like grandma used to have. You made my day! Thanks!

  5. Sue Frisch

    Damon, thanks for the link to your other photos…amazing!

  6. Peony Fan

    What a different looking rhododendron! I enjoyed the photos of Mt. Kinabalu, too. Amazing striations on the rocks of that mountain.

  7. kishor makode

    it is amazing photograph of rhododendron.very beautiful.

  8. Pamela Pilling

    Amazing small Rhodo species. Never thought they would look like that. If the flowers were not there I’d would be thinking I was looking at a conifer.

  9. Donald Schall

    I passed the photo on to a friend. Here immediate question was: “Who pollinates it at 4,000 meters?”

  10. Ron B

    A somewhat stylized but similar image is the logo of the Rhododendron Species Foundation. Have seen no indication of this particular species being in the collections of the Rhododendron Species Botanical Garden, Federal Way, WA but if not it probably will be some day, if it is at all possible. Meanwhile locals as well as people visiting from outside the area can see a year-round display of tender rhododendrons and companion plants in the Rutherford Conservatory there; there is also a significant collection of tropical rhododendrons in the greenhouses of the Bovees nursery, Portland, OR.

  11. Jessica

    Wow. That’s an unexpected beauty.
    Yes, at first glance it looks like a love-match between a conifer and some kind of campanula. lol
    Thanks for another great photo and info about a very interesting plant.
    I love this site.

  12. Jessica

    Thanks so much for the link to the photos of your fabulous trip, Damon. What a wild and wonderful landscape. It’s always amazing how life will find its way into every nook and cranny and manage to thrive. The flowers against those stark, sweeping landscapes are gorgeous.
    Hey…if there’s an Ugly Sister Peak, does that mean there’s a Lovely Sister Peak? BTW…she’s not so ugly. Looks beautiful to me. LOL
    Your photos really capture the feeling of being on the hike with you.
    Thanks, again.

  13. Nadia

    I wish we can see this plant at UBC garden one day

  14. Deborah Cottam

    I’m a member of the Friends of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh, a beautiful botanic garden that I visit often. By coincidence, not only does ‘the Botanics’ (as locals call them) have research into Rododendrons as one of its specialisms, but I understand there’s also an arrangement for reciprocal entry to your gardens and ours. This is a cracking photo and I agree with others, these ‘different’ rhodies are more interesting than the ordinary kind – maybe because we don’t see so much of them!
    Thanks for this site which often makes my day.

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