This morning I have spent studying Rhododendron leaves and flowers with a magnifying glass and a hand full of reference books trying to work out some of our late flowering species.
Trying to determine if the plant fits the descriptions which include words like “ Leaves oblong-elliptic under side pale glaucous green, hairy with stellate hairs, glandular and setulose-glandular or eglandular” to name a few!
So armed with the magnifying glass I have studied the upper and lower surface of the leaves looking, firstly for scales, which seperates rhododendron in to two main groups. Next is “Indumentum” the fine hairs on the underside of the leaves, followed by flowers and (I will whisper this bit as its before the watershed) their sexual/reproductive parts including inflorescence, stamens, Pistel, ovary etc.
The upshot to all this is we know have at least 3 more species correctly named within our rhododendron collection (and me a headache!) Those being R.decorum ssp.diaprepes, R.griersonianum, and R.facetum.
A good mornings work I think.