Creeping shrubs, 20-70 cm tall; young shoots ca. 2 mm in diameter below inflorescence; sparsely tomentose and glandular; bud scales persistent. Petiole 4-7 mm long, glandular-hairy and sparsely floccose-tomentose; leaf blade leathery, obovate to orbicular, 1.2-2.4 cm long, 1.2-1.6 cm wide, base broadly cuneate, narrowly decurrent; apex rounded or retuse, sometimes mucronate; abaxial surface purple or green, glandular hairs few or absent; adaxial surface green, glabrous; midrib grooved adaxially; lateral veins 6-7-paired, impressed adaxially. Inflorescence 1-2-flowered. Pedicel 1.5-2 cm, densely glandular-hairy and puberulent; calyx saucer-shaped, fleshy; lobes 5, 1-3 mm, margin glandular-ciliate; corolla tubular-campanulate, crimson, 2.9-3.8 cm, with 5 basal nectar pouches; lobes 5, suborbicular, 0.9 cm long, ca. 1.3 cm wide, emarginate; stamens 10, 1.5-1.7 cm, filaments glabrous; ovary conoid, ca. 4.5 mm, densely glandular-hairy and tomentose; style glabrous; stigma small. Capsule cylindric, ca. 10 mm long, 6-8 mm wide.
Dwarf creeping shrub; stems up to 0.6m long though rarely more than 0.1m high; perulae persistent. Leaves obovate to orbicular, 1-2.8 x 0.9-1.8cm, 1.1—2.5(—3.2) x as long as broad, apex rounded to retuse, sometimes mucronate, base broadly cuneate, often narrowly decurrent, upper surface glabrous, lower surface glabrous or with a few stipitate glands and branched hairs towards the base, green to purple or glaucous-papillate below when mature; petioles 0.5-0.8cm, stipitate-glandular and sparsely floccose-tomentose. Flowers solitary; pedicels 10-20mm, stipitate-glandular. Calyx c.lmm, lobes fleshy. Corolla fleshy, tubular-campanulate, crimson, 30-35mm. Ovary densely stipitate-glandular and rufous-tomentose. Capsule 15-20 x 6-7mm.
Rhododendron forrestii subsp. forrestii is close relative of Rhododendron forrestii subsp. papillatum, but differs from the latter in its leaf blade 1.2-1.6 cm wide (vs. 0.8-1.2 cm), abaxial surface purple or green (vs. glaucous-papillate), glandular haris few or absent (vs. conspicuous).
Moist stony pasture, on boulders
Growing in moist stony pastures, rocky slopes; 3000-4100 m.
Life History and Behavior
Flowering from May to July; fruiting from October to November.
Molecular Biology and Genetics
Barcode data: Rhododendron forrestii
Statistics of barcoding coverage: Rhododendron forrestii
Public Records: 1
Specimens with Barcodes: 5
Species With Barcodes: 1
Rhododendron ×pyrrhoanthum I. B. Balfour (Notes Roy. Bot. Gard. Edinburgh 12: 154. 1920) was described from a rogue hybrid in a batch of R. forrestii raised from seed collected by George Forrest in Yunnan. It is known only in cultivation.
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