Rhododendron dauricum subsp. ledebourii

This rhododendron grows naturally in Russia’s Altai Mountains. In western literature it is often described as a local form of the Chinese Alprose (R. dauricum), but Russian authors class it as either a subspecies or even a species. Either way, it is particularly hardy and can be grown in a wide variety of places.

The small herb-scented oval leaves remain on the shrub through part of the winter, changing to a dark red-brown. Early in spring violet-red flowers appear at the ends of the shoots; individual blossoms may be 2-4 cms, with 3-8 in a cluster. In the wild the species survives as a creeping sub-shrub among lime-rich rocks or may even grow to about 2 metres on moist peat in birch and mixed forest.

In Finland, it has proved one of the hardiest of the rhododendrons, though sometimes the early flowers may be spoiled by spring frosts. In really mild winters the shrub may try to flower as early as Christmas; when this happens the spring flowering is poor.


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