Rhododendron przewalskii - Przewalski’s rhododendron

Przewalski’s rhododendron (R. przewalskii) is named after the famous Russian explorer Nikolai Mihailovitš Prževalski (1839 ̶ 1888), who made 5 expeditions to previously almost unknown areas of western and central China, to Mongolia and Tibet, describing and naming several new animal and plant species.

Despite the widespread range of this species in the wild, it is little grown in western collections. This is probably due to difficulties in reproduction, either by cuttings or from seed, and also to its reluctance to flower. At Mustila it has grown for years in the Alppiruusulaakso (Rhododendron Valley) but has never been known to flower, and at Ruissalo, Turku, flowering has been rare. This is not due to lack of bud hardiness; rather, buds are simply not formed, even on mature shrubs. This may be due to problems of day length, but the same problem is experienced in Denmark. Thus the true problem may simply be that the temperature sum is too low. In its native habitat the continental climate may provide extremely warm periods and the species is reported to withstand extremely dry conditions.

Even without flowers, Przewalski’s rhododendron is a handsome shrub. Throughout its range there are marked variations between individuals, with sizes varying between low and cushion-like to almost tree-like forms.


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