JARS v46n4 - Rhododendron nakotaisanense

Rhododendron nakotaisanense
Lynn Watts
Bellevue, Washington

Reprinted from the Seattle Rhododendron Society's newsletter, September 1991

Most of you are familiar with Rhododendron pseudochrysanthum and most species enthusiasts are acquainted with R. morii , but how many of you have even heard of R. nakotaisanense ?

Rhododendron nakotaisanense was evidently first collected by Sasaki in 1917 on Taiwan at an elevation of 10,820 feet. The experts are still undecided as to whether this rhododendron deserves species status or whether it is merely a form of R. pseudochrysanthum or R. morii which it closely resembles. These three rhododendrons occur in the wild only on the island of Taiwan (see "Taiwanese Treasures", an article by Dave Dougan in the Summer 1992 issue of the Journal).

In The Rhododendron Species, Volume II, Elepidotes , H.H. Davidian states, " R. nakotaisanense could well be regarded as a variety or form of R. morii ." He also indicates that there is no record of its occurrence in cultivation. However, included in the Caperci collection which we acquired 12 years ago were 10 to 12 plants of R. nakotaisanense which Jim had raised from seed sent to him by one of his many friends. Although it is true that these plants bear a striking resemblance to R. morii , I fail to see as much similarity with R. pseudochrysanthum .

These plants of R. nakotaisanense have all flowered. In fact, Don King of Seattle exhibited a truss of one at the Seattle Species Study Group's Early Competition in April 1991 and won a blue ribbon.

Rhododendron nakotaisanense is smaller in stature than R. morii and bears its white, suffused rose flowers in April. It is an easy plant to grow and is hardy to -10 degrees F. It certainly deserves a place in the collector's garden.