Wild Species or Botanical Roses

Species or Botanical Roses are the original roses, which grew all over the Northern Hemisphere from Europe to the Middle East and Asia, as well as North America. I will be discussing species from all areas, but first a quick note about the other subgenera.

Hulthemia, or Simplicifoliae (meaning simple leaves), is the oldest of the subgenera and has been classified outside the Rosa genus by some authorities. Its growth habit, behaviour and general appearance are very rose-like, but the foliage is different, being simple leaves with no stipules. They are the only roses without compound leaves or stipules. The flowers are single with five petals and the stems are angular with many thorns. It originated in SW Asia, mainly Iran, hence the name ‘Persian Rose’, R. persica.

R. stellata, the Gooseberry Rose, belongs to the subgenus, Hesperhodos (Greek for Western Rose) and it looks and behaves very much like a small gooseberry bush with very prickly stems; small, light green, gooseberry-like foliage; and buds and fruit covered with soft spines. It hails from SW North America, while the third subgenus Platyrhodon (Greek for Flaky Rose, referring to its bark) only has one species: R. roxburghii, the Burr or Chestnut Rose, which originated in China. This tall shrub has tawny-brown angular stems with flaky peeling bark on the older wood; long, stout, paired thorns; light green compound leaves with 15 small leaflets; a small crop of single clear pink flowers; and spiny yellow-orange fruit.

Now I will focus on the largest subgenus, Rosa, which has 11 sections. I have repeated this section from last week’s post for easier reading:

1. Pimpinellifoliae (including R. foetida, R. spinosissima, R. hugonis, R.ecae)

2. Gallicanae (including R. gallica, R. damascena, R. centifolia, R. centifolia muscosa, R. richardii, Portlands)

3. Caninae (including R. alba, R. canina, R. eglanteria, R. glauca and R. villosa)

4. Carolinae (including R. carolina, R. nitida, R.palustris, R. virginiana, R. foliolosa)

5. Cassiorhodon (Cinnamomaea :  including R. moyesii, R. rugosa, R. blanda, R. fedschenkoana, R. kordesii, and Boursaults)

6. Synstylae (including R. arvensis, R. brunonii, R. dupontii, R. filipes, R. moschata, R. multiflora, R. phoenicia, R. sempervirens, R. setigera, R. wichuriana and Hybrid Musks, Polyanthas, Floribundas, Multiflora Ramblers, Modern Climbing Roses and Modern Shrub Roses)

7. Chinensis (including R. chinensis, R. odorata, R. gigantea, Bourbons, Noisettes, Teas, Hybrid Perpetuals and Hybrid Teas)

8. Banksianae (including R. banksiae and R. fortuniana)

9. Laevigatae (R. laevigata)

10. Bracteata (R. bracteata)

11. Gymnocarpae (R. gymnocarpa)

The photos below are of Species Roses: R. wilmottiae (photo 1); R. webbiana (photos 2 and 3); and R. roxburghii plena (photo 4).blogspeciesrosesreszd20%2014-10-27-12-52-17blogspeciesrosesreszd20%2014-10-27-13-10-29blogspeciesrosesreszd20%2014-10-27-13-10-57blogspeciesrosesreszd20%2014-10-27-13-04-46However, I think it is easier to understand all these species by dividing them up into their original habitats and because our forefathers came from Europe, bringing their roses with them, I will start with Europe.

Dog Roses, R. canina, are the commonest wild roses, often growing in hedgerows, in Britain and Northern Europe. They have hardy, stiff twiggy bushes; single, sweetly-scented, pale pink flowers borne in small groups; and bright orange hips, which are very rich in Vitamin C and are used to make rosehip syrup, jam, tea and even wine. One cup of rosehip tea provides the minimum daily adult requirement of Vitamin C. Apparently, during the Second World War, the British relied on rosehips and hops for their source of  Vitamins A and C , hence the common (and very quaint!) wartime expression ‘we are getting by on our hips and our hops’! In the past, they were used as a medicine to treat bites from mad dogs, hence the name, the Dog Rose. Here are photos of the hips and the flowers:blogspeciesrosesreszd50image-192blogspeciesrosesreszd20%2014-10-27-11-14-20 Sweet Briar, R. eglanteria, also known as R. rubiginosa, is closely related to and very similar in appearance to R. canina, except that it has apple-scented foliage and a higher density of prickles. Its oval bright orange red hips in late Summer and  Autumn are also used to make rosehip syrup. It has a number of cultivars, though many have since disappeared, and include the Penzance Briars of the 1890s. I saw both Lord Penzance 1890 and Lady Penzance 1894 at the Mt Lofty Botanic Garden. I loved their tiny golden blooms. Lord Penzance is a cross between R. eglanteria and R. harisonii, while Lady Penzance is a cross between R. eglanteria and R. foetida bicolor and has the strongest scented foliage. Both R. canina and R. rubiginosa have been fully naturalized in Australia from the days of early settlement. The Dog Rose was used as a root stock for modern roses in Europe until superseded by Rosa laxa, though it is still used as an understock for standard roses. This is a photo of Lord Penzance :blogspeciesrosesreszd20%2014-10-27-13-09-47The Apple Rose and the Field Rose also hail from Northern and Central Europe. The Apple Rose, R. villosa or R. pomifera, hailing from the same area as R. canina and R. eglanteria, also has fragrant leaves; clear pink, fragrant, single flowers; and large, orange, apple-shaped fruit, covered in bristles. It is related to R. glauca, another European rose from 1830, which has glaucous purple stems, soft mauve-pink flowers and oval red-purple hips. The Field Rose, R. arvensis, a natural climber which wends its way through hedgerows, has wide open creamy flowers with gold stamens and has been used to breed Ayrshire Roses, which are very hardy, vigorous, white-flowered climbers.blogspeciesrosesreszd25%2014-11-26-15-28-51Scotch Briars, R. pimpinellifolia, also known as R. spinosissima, prefer colder and less fertile areas like the coast. They are very hardy and not fussy about soil, reproduce easily from cuttings and sucker freely on their own roots. They have very prickly bushy growth, attractive fern-like Autumn foliage and single and double blooms of white, pink, yellow or red, often being the first roses to flower in Summer. Spinosissima Single Purple (photo above) is an example.They were very popular at the beginning of the 19th century and were the dominant cluster-flowered rose in 1824, until they were superseded by longer-flowering roses, but only a few cultivars are left. Harison’s Double Yellow, R. harisonii, photographed below, is a very double yellow form, which we also saw at the Mt Lofty Botanic Gardens.blogspeciesrosesreszd20%2014-10-27-12-52-41blogspeciesrosesreszd20%2014-10-19-13-31-26 The German breeder, Kordes, used R. pimpinellifolia to breed Fruhlinsgold 1937 (photos 2 and 3), Fruhlingsmorgen 1942, Fruhlingstag 1949 and Maigold 1953 (photo 1).blogspeciesrosesreszd20img_9505blogspeciesrosesreszd20%2014-10-19-13-30-29blogspeciesrosesreszd50image-259 But my favourite of all the Scotch Roses (and in fact, one of my favourite roses of all, for its refined scent and long continuous flowering, often being the first and last rose of the season to bloom – see photo below) is Stanwell Perpetual 1838, a cross between the Autumn Damask, R. damascena bifera, and R. pimpinellifolia. It is tall and straggly, with long, incredibly prickly, arching canes; grey-green, ferny leaves; and fully double, quartered, soft blush-pink scented flowers.blogspeciesrosesreszd20%2016-11-10-09-19-11In Southern Europe, R. gallica  is the dominant rose and will be discussed in my post on Gallicas next month. R. sempervirens and its hybrids are healthy ramblers and scramblers, which originated in the Mediterranean area and were known as the Evergreen Roses in Victorian times, as they retain their foliage in Winter. They include Adelaide d’Orleans 1826 (photo below) and Félicité Perpétue 1827. The Musk Rose, R.moschata, also grows in Mediterranean regions and may have been introduced from the East early on in the history of the rose.blogspeciesrosesreszd20img_9330The roses which grow in the Middle East: R.foetida, R. ecae and R. hemisphaerica: also belong to the Pimpinellifolia subgenus. The Austrian Briar or Austrian Yellow, R. foetida (‘foetida‘ referring to the slightly unpleasant smell of the flowers), has large single golden-yellow flowers with prominent stamens in early Summer. See photo below:blogspeciesrosesreszd20%2014-10-19-13-27-18

I used to grow Austrian Copper, R. foetida bicolor, a sport of R. foetida. Its single blooms are copper orange inside and yellow on the outside (see photo 2 below), occasionally reverting to the original yellow or sometimes both colours occurring on the plant at the same time (see photo 1 below). Both are vigorous shrubs and can be used as climbers.blogspeciesrosesreszd20%2014-10-19-13-27-55blogspeciesrosesreszd20%2014-10-19-13-27-58 R. foetida persiana (photo below) has double, globular, rich  golden yellow blooms. The golden colours of R.foetida and the latter have been used extensively in the breeding of the modern rose, but unfortunately these roses have also passed on their propensity to black spot.blogspeciesrosesreszd20%2014-10-19-13-28-55 The Sulphur Rose, R. hemisphaerica, is also a tall, fully double, sulphur-yellow rose, while R.ecae is a small prickly shrub with reddish-brown twigs; small ferny leaves; and single, buttercup-sized, deep yellow blooms with pronounced stamens.blogspeciesrosesreszd50nov-2010-259

I used to grow Geranium 1938, a seedling of R. moyesii (photo below). Geranium, photographed above, has light green leaves; single, orange-red blooms with creamy anthers; and a large crop of pendulous, orange-red, flagon-shaped hips each year.blogspeciesrosesreszd20%2014-10-27-12-57-55I have never grown any of the American species, so I don’t know much about them, but they include : R. virginiana; R. carolina; R. nitida (photo below); the Swamp Rose R. palustris; the Meadow Rose R. blanda and  R. gymnocarpa, the latter two the American equivalent of Europe’s Dog Rose; and R. foliolosa. All have good Autumn foliage, but have less fragrance and colour variation then the European species. The Prairie Rose, R. setigera, is the only native climbing rose in the USA and is a hardy trailing shrub with long arching branches, good Autumn foliage, clusters of single pink flowers with no fragrance, and small globular red hips. Baltimore Belle 1843 is a famous Setigera hybrid, resulting from a cross with a Gallica hybrid. R. gymnocarpa is the most distinctive rose in California and is known as the Bald Hip Rose, because it loses the sepals off its hips earlier than in other species.blogspeciesrosesreszd20%2014-10-27-12-53-07The Cherokee Rose ( R. laevigata ) and the Macartney Rose ( R. bracteata ) are both Asian roses, which naturalized very quickly in the warm South of USA.  They are both climbers with glossy nearly evergreen leaves, large vicious barbs along their stems, and very large, white, single flowers with pronounced gold stamens. R. laevigata (photo below) was discovered in China in 1759 and reached America by the end of the 19th century, where it adapted so readily that it became known as the Cherokee Rose.blogspeciesrosesreszd20img_9262 In 1895, R. laevigata was crossed with a Tea Rose in Germany to produce the light pink Anemone Rose, R. anemonoides, which later sported Ramona, the Red Cherokee Rose. R. bracteata (photo below) was discovered in the Shangtun and Kian regions of China in 1792 during a plant collecting expedition led by Lord Macartney, after whom the rose is named. It was a bit tender in Europe, but on reaching America by the early 19th century, it thrived, naturalizing in the hedgerows, then escaping into the fields, where its strong underground runners are now used to prevent erosion. Crossing R. bracteata with a double yellow Tea Rose in 1917 produced a famous and beautiful evergreen climber, with lemon-yellow single flowers, called Mermaid.blogspeciesrosesreszd20img_9264Asia has by far the greatest diversity in Rosa species. Since it is one of the first roses to flower for the season, I will start with the Banksianae Roses. Banksia Roses are vigorous climbers with few thorns; smooth, light green foliage with 5 to 7 leaflets; large clusters of small, rosette-like, white or yellow flowers; and small hips.blogspeciesrosesreszd20%2014-10-19-13-38-30 I have two types : the double white R.banksiae alba plena 1803 (photo above) on the bottom fence in the future chook yard, intermingled with jasmine, Jasminum polyanthum, both of which I grew from cuttings in the same polystyrene box. Their roots were so intertwined that I planted them both together and they  both flowered at the same time in Spring, as did our huge old bush of the double pale yellow Lady Banks Rose, R. banksia lutea 1825. See photos below:blogoctgarden20reszd2016-10-09-11-39-16blogoctgarden20reszdimg_1904blogoctgarden20reszdimg_0289Lady Banks was the wife of Joseph Banks, the botanist on the Endeavour during Captain Cook’s exploratory trip to Australia, and later the President of the Royal Horticultural Society, when these roses were discovered in China. It is such a spectacular sight over our outdoor eating area and was one of the contributory factors for our purchase of the house. We also used to grow it over the outside toilet in our old garden in Armidale.blogspeciesrosesreszd50image-224

Both banksias have single forms too – R. banksiae normalis 1877 has single white blooms, which are borne singly rather than in clusters, while R. banksiae lutescens 1870 has single pale yellow flowers, which are slightly larger than R. banskiae lutea. See photo below:blogspeciesrosesreszd20%2014-10-19-13-38-09 R. fortuniana, thought to be a cross between R. laevigata and  a white R. banksiae, has larger scented double creamy-white flowers, which are borne singly in each leaf axil, rather than in clusters, an identification aid, differentiating it from R. banksiae alba plena. It also has slightly darker green foliage and stems and is even easier to propagate, so is often used as a rose understock, especially in sandy soils. It was introduced from China to the West in 1850. It flowers once only in early Spring.

On my neighbour’s fence line, I am growing three Rugosa hybrids. R. rugosa hails from Japan and West Asia and originally only had two forms with a wine-red or a white single bloom, but extensive hybridization since the 1890s has produced at least 46 different hybrids of single, semi-double and double forms and a wide colour range from white to pink, red, purple and even yellow, as in the case of Agnes, which I saw at Walter Duncan’s Heritage Rose Garden in Clare, South Australia (photo below).blogspeciesrosesreszd20%2014-10-19-13-32-32 Rugosas are tough hardy shrubs which tolerate poor and sandy soils, pollution and salty winds, so can be grown in coastal situations. They are even grown in the middle of the French autoroutes, an inspired decision, as their beautiful colourful blooms are very fragrant and bloom almost continuously. The purple-red blooms of Roseraie de l’Hay (photo below) are particularly fragrant. It is one of my favourite roses!blogspeciesrosesreszd20%2016-11-15-13-41-50 Madame Georges Bruant (photos below) also has a lovely scent and elegant, semi-double, pure white blooms.blogspeciesrosesreszd50image-233bloghxroses20reszd2016-11-11-16-23-13It is a cross between R. rugosa and Tea Rose, Sombreuil, photographed below.blogspeciesrosesreszd20img_0189 In between, I have planted the slightly smaller Fru Dagmar Hastrup, also known as Frau Dagmar Hartopp, which has silvery-pink, scented, single blooms (photo below) with pronounced gold stamens and tomato-like hips.blogspeciesrosesreszd20%2014-10-27-13-12-34 All rugosas are incredibly prickly and make good impenetrable hedges. They also have deep veined, coarse, textured rugose (wrinkled) leaves, hence their name and their ability to withstand tough climatic conditions. They provide good Autumn color, as do their large, globular, red hips.They are also incredibly disease-resistant and drought- and shade-tolerant.blogspeciesrosesreszd50april-028 In the past, I have also grown Scabrosa, which has large, fragrant, single, cerise blooms and gold stamens and prominent hips (photos below);blogspeciesrosesreszd20%2014-10-27-13-11-35blogspeciesrosesreszd50april-032 R. rugosa alba (photo below) with its single, pure-white, fragrant flowers;blogspeciesrosesreszd70image-159 Fimbriata, a cross between R. rugosa and Noisette rose, Mme Alfred Carrière, with small white/ blushing pale-pink, dianthus-like blooms (photo below) with a frilled edge (as if they had been cut with pinking shears), but unfortunately no fragrance;blogspeciesrosesreszd50image-171 Pink Grootendorst, its pink equivalent; See photo below:blogspeciesrosesreszd20%2014-10-27-13-14-46 and the enormous Vanguard, with equally gigantic, salmon-pink, semi-double blooms, which I probably would never have ordered had I realized how large it grew (which is also why I am NOT growing it now!). See photos below:blogspeciesrosesreszd50image-213image-178 Vanguard was developed in 1932 from a cross between Eldorado and a hybrid Rugosa alba-Wichuraiana cross, which brings me to the next type of rose, the Wichuraiana Ramblers.

R. wichuraiana was introduced to the West in the 1890s from China and was crossed with Polyanthas and China roses to produce many exceedingly healthy and vigorous ramblers and climbers with cluster flowers and glossy green foliage like Dorothy Perkins 1902; Excelsa 1909; Sanders White 1912; Dr W. Van Fleet 1910; and Paul Transom 1900 (photo).blogspeciesrosesreszd20img_9247

I have three hybrids in my current garden. Albéric Barbier 1900 is a cross between R. wichuraiana and ‘Shirley Hibbard’ and has long pliable stems, glossy green foliage and creamy white flowers in Summer. I grew it from cuttings and have 2 bushes in pots, ready to clamber over the future chook pen! I also raised three plants of Albertine and one plant of New Dawn from cuttings. Albertine 1921 is a favourite, despite its wicked, sharp-hooked thorns. It is a cross between R. wichuraiana and ‘Mrs Arthur Robert Waddell’ and has glossy coppery-red leaves and beautifully scented, muddled warm-pink blooms in Summer only (photos 2 and 3 below). I have planted them along the back of the shed, where their blooms will complement the colour of the old shed wall perfectly. We plan to construct a framework behind them, so they can be kept under control to a certain degree, otherwise they could well take over the entire area! In my old garden, they covered the entrance pergola, as can be seen in photo 1 below:blogspeciesrosesreszd50image-227blogspeciesrosesreszd50image-187blogspeciesrosesreszd20%2016-11-16-09-47-07 New Dawn 1930, a sport of Dr Van Fleet, has soft blush-pink scented blooms (see photos below), glossy dark green foliage and thorny stems. I am growing it up the front of the main pergola on the bottom side. New Dawn was the first perpetual flowering climber, opening up a new era for climbing roses.blogspeciesrosesreszd20%2016-11-22-17-03-43blogspeciesrosesreszd20img_0456Another rose species with large hooked thorns is R. sericea from the Himalayas and Western China. In fact, R. sericea pteracantha (photos below) is often grown specifically for its young red thorns, which are quite spectacular when the sun shines through them! They have small, single, white flowers with only four petals and delicate ferny foliage.blogspeciesrosesreszd20%2014-10-19-13-06-24blogspeciesrosesreszd20%2014-10-19-13-06-30 R. xanthina, the parent of bright yellow Canary Bird 1908, photographed below, also has ferny foliage and hails from China. It is a member of the Pimpinellifolia subgenus.blogspeciesrosesreszd20%2014-10-27-12-56-44blogspeciesrosesreszd20%2014-10-27-12-56-56Rosa brunonii is also from the Himalayas , hence its name, the Himalayan Musk Rose, as well as its previous scientific name, R. moschata nepalensis. It is a very vigorous climber with downy grey-green, drooping leaves; hooked thorns; and single, white, tissue-thin flowers in clusters in Summer. See photo below:blogspeciesrosesreszd20img_9332 It is now seen as a distinct species, separate from R. moschata, the Musk Rose, which looks very similar and has a pleasant musk scent. The latter is a very old rose and is thought to have been introduced during the reign of King Henry XIII. R. moschata was crossed with R. gallica to produce R. dupontii, one of my favourite tall shrubs (2m) with single, white, scented flowers and gold stamens. Here is a photo of Dupontii: blogspeciesrosesreszd20%2014-10-27-12-55-11

Rosa multiflora hails from East Asia and has had a great influence in the development of modern roses. Seeds were sent from Japan to the French rose breeder, Guillot, in 1862, who then used it to develop Floribundas, which I will be discussing later in the year, and at least 27 once-flowering Multiflora Ramblers, most of which still exist today.

I am growing three plants of Russelliana 1840, a cross between R. multiflora and R. setigera, which I raised from cuttings, along my neighbour’s fence at the back of the future chook yard. Also called the Old Spanish Rose, as it was thought to have originally come from Spain, this ancient rose has very double, quartered, fragrant, crimson-purple, fading to lilac/ mauve, flowers with a green eye, borne in clusters; very thorny stems; and blue-green leaves with a resinous (pine-like) fragrance. It is a tough rose, tolerating poor soils and full shade, so it hopefully should be able to handle its proximity to the white mulberry tree. It propagates easily and was once used as a root stock. Here is one of my young seedlings:blogspeciesrosesreszd20%2016-11-08-10-27-30 Seagull and Rambling Rector are two more famous examples of the latter rose type.

Rosa multiflora, photographed below, is very floriferous, even though it is only a short flowering season, with clusters of small, single, creamy-white flowers with gold stamens, borne on thornless stems produced in the previous season and smooth light green leaves. Because it strikes readily from seeds and cuttings, it was used as an understock in the early 20th century. Other forms of R. multiflora include: R. multiflora carnea (fully double globular white flowers tinged with pink); R. multiflora cathayensis (larger single pink flowers) and the unusual Seven Sisters Rose, R. multiflora platyphylla 1816, with huge trusses of large double flowers, often with seven different colours within the one truss. Colours vary from soft to deep pink, lilac and even deep red.blogspeciesrosesreszd70image-163And finally, the most famous Chinese species of all, without which the modern rose would never have developed: The China Rose, R. chinensis, previously called R. indica and R. sinica. The China, photographed below, is one of the Stud Chinas, called Slaters Crimson China.bloghxroses20reszd2014-10-19-13-14-31 It is a member of the subgenus Chinensis, along with other Chinese species R. gigantea (photo below) and Rosa X odorata, and I will reserve discussion of this important subgenus till later in the year. Its main contribution to the modern rose gene pool is its remontancy, as well as its warm colour range.blogspeciesrosesreszd20%2014-10-19-13-24-37  Before the introduction of the Chinas to the West, Old European Roses were only white, pink or red and flowered only once, except for the Autumn Damask, which flowered twice. The basic rose groups were : Gallicas, Albas, Damasks, Centifolias and Mosses, so next month, I will start with an in-depth look at the Gallicas, then progress through the other rose types in order.

5 thoughts on “Wild Species or Botanical Roses

    1. Thank you so much! That’s very kind of you. I feel like I’ve only just touched on the subject! It’s an enormous field and that’s just Species Roses!!! Once breeding got underway, the number and variety of roses expanded exponentially! I’m in awe of true rose experts!!!


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