Bonati's type is a collection from Yunnan: "typ. herb. Mus. Paris.... Hlabit Yunnan, champs pres de Ta-pin-tze (Delavay 1885 nº 1518 sub nomine 'M. stachydifolius Maxim."' It has not been seen. In the Bonati Herbarium, there is another collection of Delavay, from the type locality, authenticated by Bonati.
This species is a close relative of M. japonicus (Thunb.) Kuntze. It can be distinguished from the latter in the more hirsute habit, more numerous and more decumbent stems and shorter pedicels. M. japonicus is widely distributed in the warmer parts of eastern Asia and usually occurs at low altitudes. M. delavayi is restricted to Yunnan and Sikang in western China and is of higher altitudes.