R. proteoides, Number 147
1948 Rock Collection
Cecil Smith, St. Paul, OR
In 1948 Dr. Joseph F. Rock offered to sell seed and herbarium specimens of rhododendrons to the American Rhododendron Society. The collection was to be made in the Tibet and Yunnan border area. The late George Grace received and distributed the seed, and all of the herbarium specimens, as I recall, went to Edinburgh.
John and Rudolph Henny grew and distributed thousands of the seedlings. George Grace grew and planted seedlings by the thousands on his place and that of a friend, and thousands matured to blooming stage. The late Dr. Carl Phetteplace also grew many to maturity in his garden.
There were at least fifty numbers in the neriflorum and taliense series, but the great majority were lost, because, at that time, very few people knew that these two groups need especially sharp drainage.
I lost most of the taliense group, including R. proteoides, but a year or so later, acquired two more of them from George Grace, and have managed to keep one of them to this day, thirty years later.
|photo by Cecil Smith|
In early 1983, it is twenty-six inches wide and thirteen inches high. It is growing on an old Douglas fir stump and has excellent drainage and light organic soil. It gets some morning sun and a small amount of filtered afternoon sun. It gets about half open sky above and to the north and could stand more light. This clone bloomed for the first time at about fifteen years of age, and had from three to five buds set every fall until about five years ago. Most of the bloom buds came on a second growth. At that time I started to water the plant every two or three days during the period of the new growth, and many shoots started a second growth with bloom buds pushing through. The plant set thirty-nine flower buds last fall, the greatest number yet.
Until a few years ago, the plant branched well, and produced many cuttings, and a good percentage of these rooted. Very few side shoots are now found, which may indicate that it has reached its maturity.
|photo by Cecil Smith|
R. proteoides pollen was used on R. yakushimanum, Wada form, here, quite a few years ago. A generous amount of seed was produced, which was sent to the seed exchange, and I have heard of many good little clones being produced. This plant has a much greater dwarfing effect on its progeny than does R. yakushimanum.
The chances of R. proteoides Rock number 147 hybrids becoming collector's items are much greater than they are of becoming commercial items, but that should not stop the amateur hybridizer from trying to produce slow growing, high quality, indumented plants. If they are good, the small nurseryman who both propagates and sells retail, will be glad to get them. This idea is better stated by Dr. Gustav Mehlquist on page fourteen of the 1980 Breeders Round Table report, which was published recently and which should be of much interest to pollen dabbers.