Rhododendron hypoleucum

Labrador tea is a rhododendron! The Labrador teas (Ledum) were combined with the rhododendrons (Rhododendron) in 1990 on the basis of molecular studies. The Finnish researcher Harri Harmaja has re-named most of the known Labrador teas, including the native Finnish species, formerly Ledum palustre, now Rhododendron tomentosum. The Ledums hybridise with some Rhododendron species, which indicates their close relationship.

There are several Labrador tea species native to East Asia whose study and classification is still in progress. R. hypoleucum, for example, resembles the native (former) Ledum palustre in its flowers, though the former has broader, larger leaves and grows more robustly. The leaf under-surfaces have abundant white curly hairs and sparse brown hairs. This species was obtained by the Mustila collecting expedition to Amur in 1976, and since 1980 the shrubs have thrived in Tuijalaakso (White Cedar Valley) beside the boardwalk, where their sharp scent is wafted to passers-by.


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