Rhododendron sinogrande Half.f. & W.W.Sm.

Great Chinese rhododendron

Family: Ericaceae

Rhododendron sinogrande is a rhododendron on a grand scale, forming a large shrub or even a small tree, with huge leaves up to 60cm long with a grey or buff indumentum on their backs. The profusely borne large creamy flowers each have a distinctive pink stigma. It is a superb plant, if you have a garden big enough to show it off at its best. It comes from W. Yunan, NE Upper Burma and SE Tibet. Discovered and introduced by George Forrest in 1913, it received an RHS Award of Merit in 1922 and a First Class Certificate in 1926. Said to be half-hardy (OK to -5 degC), it thrives in areas without too much wind which could break branches and damage leaves. 
This fine specimen is located beside the Stranmillis gate into the Botanic Gardens.

Photos taken in Belfast Botanic Gardens in 2017. Copyright: Friends of Belfast Botanic Gardens.