by Rudolph Henny
The plant illustrated on the covers of the Quarterly Bulletin of the American Rhododendron Society has been identified as R. balfourianum var. aganniphoides. The Secretary of the Society has presented some fine notes on the Series R. Taliense in this issue of the Quarterly. In the course of her observations there was mentioned this particular and unusual plant. I had the opportunity to examine both foliage and corolla in mid August, and as the Secretary mentioned "the plant has tentatively been identified as R. balfourianum var. aganniphoides". Several other species bloom late in August viz. R. serotinum of the Fortunei series, R. ungernii, R. brachycarpum, R. kyawii, R. maximum, R. auriculatum and R. didymum. On several occasions I had heard incomplete descriptions of this particular plant, and without further investigation have always mentioned R. ungernii, a plant that blooms at a similar time and has several comparative marks of distinction, namely a heavy spongy indumentum though usually white or tan color, and a pinkish white corolla, with a few spots.
One may hit a high note of perplexity upon examination to find that this plant material is without doubt of the R. Taliense series, and with all the characteristics of R. balfourianum var. aganniphoides and yet be blooming three months later than the true plant.
Dr. Cowan in his latest volume The Rhododendron Leaf on page 63 mentions R. balfourianum var. aganniphoides and the form of hair types for positive identification. This trichome type e.g. ramiform hair, is illustrated on plate X and is shown at 150 diameters. By using a microscope of 250X I was able to identify what appeared to be ramiform type hair, but there also were present several of the other types found on other species. Dr. Cowan in his work does not mention if more than one type is found on this species.