Notes on Rhododendron orbiculare
by Del James, Eugene, Oregon
During the many years in which we were recipients of seeds and scions of rare and unusual plants sent to us by the late Mr. C. P. Raffill, Assistant Curator of Kew, he forwarded to us in 1949 a collection of seeds of rhododendron species obtained while he was on a trip to Southern England.
Among the packets of seeds were those of the fine scarlet form of R. elliottii, R. lacteum and R. orbiculare.
The seeds of R. orbiculare were planted in 1949 and nursed along for several years when the first seedlings bloomed in 1955. The forms varied considerably, both in leaf form, flower size and color. None of the first plants to bloom were considered to be good forms and the plants were destroyed.
However, in the spring of 1957, one of the remaining plants flowered and proved to be a very good form which corresponds to the description in the 'Species Rhododendron." (Illustration, page 279, and description, page 280).
Fig. 31. R. orbiculare raised from seed sent by the late C. P. Rafill
Del James photo
The plant grows low and compact, and the flowers are typical of the type. The color is a bright rose, very close to the excellent forms grown at Bodnant, which are considered to be probably the best of this species in cultivation.
It will take many years for this seedling plant to attain the size and floriferousness to make a proper comparison. It is somewhat difficult to grow, but appears to be exceptionally hardy, so we can only hope it will stay happy and healthy. (Fig. 31)