QBARS - v10n2 Rhododendron bureavii

Rhododendron Bureavii
by J. G. Bacher

Underside of the leaves of R. bureavii R. bureavii (Rock 25443) R. bureavii photographed showing no damage after severe freeze
Fig. 12.  The underside of the
leaves of R. bureavii showing
the colorful dense indumentum.
Bacher photo
Fig. 13.  A bed of fine
R. bureavii (Rock 25443)
Bacher photo
Fig. 14. R. bureavii photo-
graphed after the severe
freeze of November showing
undamaged foliage.
Bacher photo

This shade loving species is unknown to the average American gardener and while it has been growing for me for some 23 years without flowering I realized what a wonderful sort of foliage plant it is. It is an old saying that it is an ill wind that blows no one any good, for in the cold spell of last November it proved itself by remaining the only species of the Taliense series of rhododendrons that did not succumb to the cold we all experienced here in the Northwest.
My plants were planted in the spring of 1945 amongst 6 other R. taliense members of the series. It remains at this time the only one to survive that spell of weather that did so much damage everywhere, even to Japanese cherries that are normally hardy as far as we know them. Even these had most of their flowering buds killed off along with the younger wood. To see my plants of R. bureavii (Rock 25442) is a sight most rare. Those plants are nearly four feet across and date back to June of 1932. Last season 2 or 3 specimens showed flowers for the first time and some evidently will bloom again this spring judging from the buds present. They have the most remarkable indumentum of the R. taliense series, and if they never bloomed would be highly appreciated as a foliage shrub alone. These plants have an indumentum so colorful and velvety that the only thing comparable is the so called soft leather Chamois Skin, the color here being a reddish tint instead of grey. The only other species anywhere comparable for indumentum is Rhododendron mallotum of which I had but a single plant and even in a sheltered location has lost all of its leaves and may never come back. Even if R. bureavii is white instead of red or apple blossom colored I shall always appreciate my Rhododendron bureavii for its much hardier disposition, but will warn anyone against ever planting it in the full sun.