Emu Valley Newsletter – April 2024

  • Date: 13th April 2024
  • author: Maurie Kupsch


Here is a rather unique, although not a very showy rhododendron from the wooded mountains of Honshu, Shikoku and Kyushu Japan. The Japanese plant collector Tschonoski discovered and first introduced this species around 1870 and by Wilson in 1914 when he sent seed to the Arnold Arboretum.

R. semibarbatum forms an upright bushy shrub 0.6 – 2 m high in the wild but usually half this height in gardens. The branchlets are pubescent glandular with long stalked glands, the leaves are elliptic- ovate, the upper surface dark green, the under surface pale green. The margins are covered with small bristles and flower buds are produced crowded underneath these leaves at the ends of the branchlets, and appear at the same time as the leaves.

The rotate-campanulate flowers are small 1.5-2 cms wide white, white flushed pink with red spots at the base of the lobes, the stamen are partly covered with white hairs. The flowers tend to be lost underneath the leaves. These plants are more for the enthusiast collector than the home gardener.

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