Description from Flora of China
Rhododendron polifolium Franchet (1895), not R. polifolia (Linnaeus) Scopoli (1771); R. spilanthum Hutchinson.
Small, much-branched, fastigiate erect shrubs, 0.3–1.3 m tall; branches densely dark brown scaly. Petiole 1–2 mm, scaly; leaf blade elliptic, oblong, narrowly obovate or ovate-lanceolate, (0.3–)0.5–1.2(–1.8) × (0.18–)0.2–0.5(–0.7) cm; base narrowly cuneate; apex acute or obtuse, usually shortly mucronate; abaxial surface yellowish green, scales contiguous or overlapping, pale fawn, rarely intermixed with a few amber; adaxial surface pale green, densely scaly, silvery or pale yellow. Inflorescence 1(or 2)-flowered. Pedicel 0.05–0.15(–0.2) cm, scaly; calyx rimlike; lobes 0.5–1.2 mm, triangular, ovate to rounded, scaly, scales various, margin ciliate or not; corolla broadly funnelform, pale lavender-blue to deep purple, 0.6–1.2 cm, tube (2–)3–4 mm, outer surface usually scaly, throat pubescent; stamens 10, 1–1.4 cm, longer than corolla, filaments villous towards base or glabrous; ovary ca. 1 mm, scaly; style 3–6 mm or 9–16 mm, usually glabrous, rarely a few scales or hairs near base. Capsule ovoid, 2–3(–4.5) mm, scaly. Fl. May–Jul, fr. Sep–Oct.
Forests, thickets, scrub, open alpine slopes, open moist slopes; 2400–4800 m. Gansu, Qinghai, N Sichuan.