Within the Montane Tropics House are several Rhododendrons of subsection Vireya. Rhododendron konori, a variable species is native to the highlands of Papua New Guinea. The large pure white flowers exude a powerful deep scent. Many collections were made and introduced through the Forest Research Centre at Lae in Papua New Guinea.
In full bloom just now the pollen grains hang from the anthers as a stringy dry powder. These anthers are on long slightly curved filaments which push the pollen strands towards the edge of the petals. This ensures a greater hit by the pollinating insects attracted by the overpowering perfume. I took two flowers to the SEM suite late afternoon, by the following morning the perfume had filled the corridor of the building. From the attached light microscope images the pearl like strands of pollen grains can be seen.
It is the parent of many popular hybrids. In Australia and America where Vireya’s are hardy outdoors much work has been carried out on these species. One such is R. leucogigas ‘Hunstein’s Secret’ x konori. This has distinct pink markings at the base of each petal. On opening there is a distinct pink tinge to the corolla, lost as it matures.