Rhododendron dauricum subsp. sichotense

This rhododendron is native to the forest slopes of the Sihote-Ali Mountains in the Russian Far East. It grows erect to about 2 metres, with small shiny leaves smelling strongly of salami when touched. They take on red-brown winter colour in autumn.

This species is little known in the west, differing from its near relations R. dauricum and R. mucronulatum in its larger, up to 5cm wide flowers, in addition to having broader evergreen leaves which are green on the undersides. These species also have intermediate forms and the whole question of species ranking is open. Whatever the facts, the large flowers, dense foliage and good winter hardiness of this subspecies make it one of the most interesting of the new wild rhododendrons for Finland. Seed batches of several provenances have been obtained in the first decade of the 2000s direct from their natural habitat, and differences between the batches in both appearance and hardiness have already been noted.


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