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EOL Rhododendron Monographs – Getting Started

Last updated on 2014/11/09

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh has a history of research into the genus Rhododendron stretching back over 100 years. The legacy of this work is a herbarium that contains many type specimens, an amazing living collection and a set of monographs that cover the whole genus. My contribution back in the 1990’s was via my PhD thesis which looked at the use of emerging molecular techniques.

The bulk of the work done on Rhododendron occurred just before the digital age kicked in and so the material is not integrated in a way that can be re-used and re-purposed. An example of this is what could be called The Edinburgh Rhododendron Monograph which covers 1,027 recognized species. This is actually spread over seven publications that came out over the course of 26 years in two journals and a book and is not available in a single form anywhere. The publications are:

  • Cullen (1980) Subgenus: Rhododendron Sections: Rhododendron & Pogonanthum 231 species
  • Argent (2006) Subgenus: Rhododendron Section: Vireya 313 species
  • Chamberlain (1982) Subgenus: Hymenanthes Section: Ponticum 302 species
  • Chamberlain & Rae (1990) Subgenus: Tsutsusi 117 species
  • Kron (1993) Subgenus: Pentanthera Section: Pentanthera 23 species
  • Judd & Kron (1995) Subgenus: Pentanthera Sections: Rhodora, Viscidula & Sciadorhodion 7 species
  • Philipson & Philipson (1986) Subgenera: Azaleastrum, Therorhodion, Mumeazalea & Candidastrum 34 species

Last year I was fortunate to be awarded a Encylopedia of LifeRubenstein Fellowship to create a species page in the encyclopedia for each of the species covered by the Edinburgh monograph – the text of all seven publications now being available electronically in various forms. The award funds me for a total of 100 days to process the OCR’d or PDF text into the EOL transfer format and to link it in to as much additional data as possible. I hope to blog my experiences good and bad.


  • Argent, G. (2006). Rhododendrons of subgenus Vireya. Royal Horticultural Society, London.
  • Chamberlain, D.F. (1982). A revision of Rhododendron. II. Subgenus Hymenanthes. Notes from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. 39:209-486.
  • Chamberlain, D.F. & Rae, S.J. (1990). A revision of Rhododendron. IV. Subgenus Tustsusi. Edinburgh Journal of Botany. 47(2) 89-200.
  • Cullen, J. (1980) Revision of Rhododendron. I. subgenus Rhododendron sections Rhododendron and Pogonanthum. Notes from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. 39:1-207.
  • Judd, W.S. & Kron, W.S. (1995). A revision of Rhododendron sections Sciadorhodion, Rhodora and Viscidula. Edinburgh Journal of Botany. 52:1-54
  • Kron, K.A. (1993). A revision of Rhododendron section Pentanthera. Edinburgh Journal of Botany. 50:249-364.
  • Philipson, W.R. & Philipson, M.N. (1986). A revision of Rhododendron. III subgenera Azaleastrum, Mumeazalea, Candidastrum and Therorhodion. Notes from the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh. 44:1-23.



  1. Thanks for that Rob – yes must include as additional data.

  2. Markus Döring Markus Döring

    will you be using the native EOL format for this or are you free to publish this as a darwin core archive which is supported by EOL now too? I’d be very interested to know how this data fits into darwin core and the species extensions we designed to publish richer monographs:

    Also if you create some reusable scripts along the way it might be interessting to share these, as there are many many of such great publications available already and it would be nice to have some basic tools available that help in such tasks.

  3. Hi Markus,

    I should get around to blogging my process but basically I am massaging the data into an XML structure that resembles the source document then using XSLT scripts to generate different outputs. I should be able to add in other formats. I’d like to do an ePub version as well – but time will tell. Currently I have no plans for anything generic but as I work on it some generally useful scripts may appear.



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