Common name: Thick-flowered rhododendron
Rhododendron pachysanthum is a species known for its beautiful foliage. The leaves are 8 to 10 centimetres (3 to 4 inches) long, and shaped like arrowheads. The fresh, new leaves which appear after the flowers fade, have a heavy coating of silvery brown tomentum and a thick rusty brown indumentum. Later in the season the tomentum fades to reveal dark green leaves.
R. pachysanthum flowers in mid-May. The flower buds are deep pink, then open to pale pink or white bell-shaped blooms with crimson or green flecks. Each truss has between 10 to 20 flowers which are somewhat thick textured.
R. pachysanthum is native to Central Taiwan. Like many rhododendrons it enjoys a sheltered site with dappled shade.
The specific epithet 'pachysanthum' means thick-flowered. This rhododendron was first described by Japanese botanist Bunzo Hayata who worked on the flora of Taiwan in the early 20th century.
Rhododendron pachysanthum can be found in Bed 46D on the Rhododendron Walk. It was planted in the bed in 2001. The shrub photos were taken on February 20, 2023.
Text and photos (except flower) by Kumi Sutcliffe
Flower photo by peganum via Wikimedia Commons