or, Tsangpo Rhododendron
"Flowering shrubs, protected & adorned:
Profusion bright! & every flower assuming
A more than natural vividness of hue."
Rhododendron tsangpoense var pruniflorum is synonymous with R. pruniflorum, & was formerly called R. brachyanthum var tsangpoense, R. charitopes var tsangpoense, or R. sordidum.
It has small belljar-blossoms of dusty plum-lavender in April & May (select clones also exist with rose-pink or red flowers). The nodding flower is very different from most rhododendrons, but not quite unique, since its pretty bells are awfully similar in form to rosy-belled R. campylogynum.
This Himalayan shrub grows wild in thickets & on rocky slopes & crevices at high elevations. The name pruniflorum alludes to the plum color of the flowers, while tsangpoense is after the Tsangpo River. This Tibetan river is the highest on earth, with the deepest gorge in the world.
But this "plum flowered" rhododendron has a larger distribution than along this river, ranging as it does from southeast Xizang China (i.e., Tibet) to northeast India & northeast Myanmar (Burma).
Hardy to five degrees F., this little shrub grows to about two feet in ten years, compactly leafed & naturally tidy. It has small round aromatic evergreen leaves. Its interesting brown bark sheds.
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