Scientific name: Rhododendron hyperythrum
Akaboshi-shakunage which means “red hat-rhododendron” in Japanese. From the photo above, you can see the red buds looking like red hats of sorts.
Native to Japan, grows naturally in the wild. A tree with a compact form and unmistakeable recurved, shiny dark green leaves. These leathery 5-6 inches long, narrow leaves have their edges rolled sharply under; their undersides are pale green and glabrous (hairless). This is unusual because it is plants in the wild that usually have flat leaves and only those in cultivation display the unusual curled edges.
‘Hyperythrum’ means ‘reddish below’ and refers to the reddish pits, which dot the underside of the leaves. The leaf petioles (stems) are bright yellow turning reddish brown near the stem (the same color as the flower buds in winter).
To see a photo of the beautiful pink flowers of the plant in bloom, read Susan Clark’s “Species in Our Midst: Rhododendron hyperythrum” article at the Rosebay page.