JARS v37n4 - Lost And Found - R. Mishmiense

Lost And Found - R. Mishmiense
Arthur W. Headlam, Bentleigh, Australia.

R. mishmiense
Photo by Peter Damman

R. mishmiense , s. & s.s. Boothii is listed in The Rhododendron Handbook, 1980, p. 235 as a Species not in Cultivation, and under the new classifications, R. mishmiense has again been 'lost' as it now appears as R. boothii subsect. Boothia.

It has been fully described by Peter A. Cox in his book Dwarf Rhododendrons, p. 84:

"Ht up to 4 ft. (1.22 m). Habit a straggly epiphyte with shortly haired branchlets.

L [Leaf] up to 3½ in. (11 cm) long and 2 in. (4.5 cm) wide, elliptic to oblong-elliptic, ciliate at margins and on mid-rib above, glaucous and densely scaly below.

F [Flower] bright lemon-yellow, usually spotted, about 1¼ in. (3.2 cm) long, broadly bell-shaped with spreading lobes. Calyx ½ in. (1-1.3 cm) long, fringed with hairs.

Like the closely related R. boothii , this species is probably lost from cultivation in Britain so it may occur nowhere outside its native habitat. It was undoubtedly a fine plant and there were never more than a handful in gardens. Kingdon Ward thought quite highly of it - A.M. 1940 - pale yellow flowers.

Only found in the Mishmi Hills, NEFA, and the Tsangpo Gorge, southeast Tibet, by Kingdon Ward at 7,000-9,000ft. (2,132-2,743 m). Epiphytic on Abies and in scrub growth along exposed ridges and rock faces. Fairly common in a limited area."

Peter Damman, Convenor of the Australian Rhododendron Society Species Study Group, who is a keen collector of species and has an eleven-acre garden at Olinda, recently advised that he had a plant of R. mishmiense which was expected to flower for the first time in the spring 1982.

The original plant was amongst a comprehensive collection imported from G. Reuthe Ltd, England, in December 1953 by Oliver J. Streeton of Olinda, and it flowered for several years prior to 1975 when Peter Damman 'selfed' it and in due course raised a number of plants from seed, which took five years to flower.

The original import died shortly after the seed was collected. However, some of the flowers of Peter Damman's plant have been selfed and more seed gathered, and it is hoped that by raising plants from seed and cuttings this species will again be available for distribution to interested enthusiasts.