Saturday, 9 May 2009

Rhododendron aucklandii Hook.f.

Rhododendron aucklandii Hook.f. -- Rhod. Sikkim-Himal. t. 11.
accepted name:
Rhododendron griffithianum Wight
Icones Plantarum Indiae Orientalis 4: 6, pl. 1203. 1848.

Rhododendron griffithianum var. aucklandii (Hook. f.) Hook.
Botanical Magazine 84: , pl. 5065. 1858.
From Hooker's Sikkim Rhododendron text, (book two)
Seen in scattered bushes, four to eight feet high, branching from the base: and there the trunk is six inches in diameter. Branches suberect, copiously leafy. Bark smooth and papery. Wood resembling that of B. Hodgsoni. Leaves variable in size and breadth, but large for the size of the plant, four to ten inches long, coriaceous, oblong-elliptical, scarcely approaching to lanceolate, acute, cordate at the base, penninerved, the nerves patent, the margin plane often tinged with yellow, upper surface light full green, the under paler, slightly glaucescent, everywhere glabrous. Petioles two inches long. Flowers the largest of the genus, but variable in size, terminal, three to five together, inodorous. Peduncles rather slender, longer than the petioles, red or green. The calyx represents a shallow, concave, irregular, subrhomboid-shaped platter, an inch and a half in its longest diameter, obscurely lobed, upper lobe most elongated, the back marked with slightly elevated, radiating lines, glossy, as it were varnished. Corolla pure white, tinged with pink, veiny, of a firm, rather fleshy, texture: tube short for the size of the flower, yellowish and rose-colour towards the base, the mouth very wide, limb exceedingly large and spreading: we have measured some only three inches across, but others five inches and five inches and a half in diameter ! Stamens twelve to eighteen, small for so large a flower: filaments glabrous; anthers obovate, ochreous brown. Ovary ovate, rather short, glaucous green, granulated. Style rather flexuose, curving upwards, terminating in a spreading, concave disc, from which the hemispherical lobed stigma rises. Capsule an inch and a half long, three-quarters of an inch broad.
It has been my lot to discover but few plants of this superb species, and in these the inflorescence varied much in size. The specimens from which our drawing was made were from a bush which grew in a rather dry sunny exposure, above the village of Choongtam, and the bush was covered with blossoms. The same species also grows on the skirts of the Pine-forests (Abies Brunoniana) above Lamteng, and it is there conspicuous for the abundance rather than for the large size of its blossoms.To this fine plant I have the melancholy satisfaction of affixing the name of the late Right Honourable Lord Auckland, no less in token of my gratitude for the kindness and patronage I received from him, when First Lord of theAdmiralty, than in memory of his zealous promotion of every scientific inquiry, and his liberal patronage of the arts and sciences while he filled the exalted station of Governor-General of India.
TAB. XI. Rhododendron Aucklandii. Fig. 1. Stamen. 2. Pistil. 3. Section of ovary:--slightly magnified. 4. Fruit:-natural size.

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