In the European Alps, Rhododendron ferrugineum can constitute dense populations with almost 100% of cover. The developmental pattern by layering and the resulting complexity of population structure make it difficult to identify distinct clones even by excavation. Therefore genotypic structure of a R. ferrugineum population, in the French Alps, was inferred from AFLP markers. In a first step, we analysed 400 samples using AFLP profiles generated by one selective primer pair. Seventeen bands out of 25 were polymorphic (68%). We identified a total of 32 multilocus genotypes. In a second step, the 32 genotypes were verified by applying two additional primer pairs to the two most distant samples from each genotype. The mean similarity (proportion of band sharing) between pairs of clones was 0.85 (range from 0.52 to 0.94). The spatial distribution of clones showed that vegetative spreading mainly occurred down a slope. Based on an annual shoot mean growth of 2.6 cm/year and the size of the widest clone, we estimated the age of the oldest individual to be at least 300 years. A single genotype can occupy a large surface and sometimes form a dense patch, suggesting that this species adopts a phalanx growth form with limited intermingling of some genets.