QBARS - v6n2 Cover Article

by P. H. Brydon

The most unusual rhododendron flower on the cover of the Quarterly Bulletin of American Rhododendron Society is R. rhabdotum . Prior to 1933 I had not seen this species in bloom, although the description of the corolla in the Rhododendron Species had intrigued me. The four inch flowers, cream colored with red lines down the back of the lobes would well be worth growing as an oddity. In 1932 the University of California Botanical Garden received a plant from the Golden Gate Park which was labeled "Maddenii Series." Since the Park Board had for many years underwritten funds for expeditions into the Orient in search of new material many plants were eventually forthcoming. This particular plant had foliage that was slightly rugose and with the habit of R. dalhousiae e.g. very leggy and with sparse foliage. I was delighted when this plant bloomed the following year and proved to be R. rhabdotum . The flowers were broadly funnel shaped and possessed the clean fragrance so characteristic of other members of the Maddenii group. The distinguishing feature was the carmine stripes on the outside of each petal. Unfortunately this species is not considered hardy North of San Francisco, although it would be of interest for anyone having a cold glasshouse where it could be grown as a potted specimen.