Journal of Horticulture and Practical Gardening, 36: 95-96 (Feb 6, 1879)
Karl Koch

*CR: Ibn Sina, c. 980 -1037

1. Rosa damascena (Damask Rose).—This Rose is undoubtedly the most ancient of all, whether they be found in gardens or indigenous in Syria. According to Dr. Wetzstein, formerly Prussian Consul at Damascus, it still plays, though so ordinary a flower, a prominent part in Damascus. During the efflux of the inhabitants of Syria into Greece, in very remote periods, the Damask Rose was introduced in conjunction with the worship of Aphrodite or Venus, though only into the islands and into the Peloponesus, and principally cultivated on the island of Samos, flowering twice a year in those days. In the Apochrypha mention is made of a Rose, and in all probability it is the Rose under our notice. Reference is also made in the same book of a garden of Roses not far from Jerusalem. In the time of Avicenna*, a celebrated physician of Arabia, the Damask Rose was extensively cultivated in Syria, partly for medicinal purposes. The Phoenicians in remote times brought the Damask Rose over from Syria to Paestum, a town in lower Italy. During the second century of the Republic and under the Roman Emperors this Rose of Paestum was in great request at Rome. Later on it was entirely lost sight of. The Rose of Count Robert de Brie was assuredly no other than the Damask Rose. During the sixteenth century a professor at Seville in Spain, named Monardos, was the first to describe the Damask Rose under the names of Rosa persica and Rosa alexandrina, and to give instructions as to the manufacture of oil and perfumes from it. The Arabs introduced the Damask Rose into the northern parts of Africa, where it is still cultivated for the manufacture of oil and scents; its culture is principally carried on in the empire of Morocco, according to the descriptions of Sir Joseph Hooker. Desfontaines, the Director of the Jardin des Plantes in Paris, in the beginning of this century also described the Damask Rose in the "Flora Atlantica" under the name of Rosa moschata.

From the chateau of Count Robert de Brie the Damask Rose found its way into all civilised parts of Europe, but notably to England. In Shakespeare's time it was held in high estimation, as the Musk Rose, and the white and red Damask Roses were the respective symbols of the Houses of York and Lancaster during their wars.

The botanist Lobel of Lille, in the course of the sixteenth century, was the first to give it the appellation of Rosa damascena.

The Damask Rose has been known by us in Germany, by botanists also, as the twice-blooming Rose (Rose bifère), on account of its two distinct blooming periods; it has also been styled the Rose of the four seasons, otherwise Rosa semperflorens.

2. Rosa centifolia and gallica.—Our Centifolia Rose is no doubt only a variety of Rosa gallica with short sprays and clear bright flowers, slightly shaded, just as in the true Rosa gallica, indigenous not only in France, as the name indicates, but nearly through the greater part of Europe and the northern parts of Asia. In France the latter goes under the name of Provence Rose, frequently also Provins. The Belgian Rose (Rosa belgica) is only a variety, of which there are a great many, besides numerous hybrids between Rosa gallica and centifolia. The true Rosa gallica is styled Essigrose (Vinegar Rose) in Germany. The Centifolia Rose has been known in Greece under the same garden name since very remote periods; from which also the Rhodope mountains receive their name, which signifies Mountains of Roses.

The Latin historians do not enlighten us as to the time when the Centifolia was brought over from Greece into Italy, at least as far as I can ascertain. At all events, whenever it was introduced it was known as the Grecian Rose. Pliny himself styled the Centifolia a Rose of Damascus. I never saw during my long and oft-repeated sojourns in Italy the true Centifolia Rose much cultivated in the gardens. The Provence Rose, of dwarf growth and very dark flowers, was, however, very much sought after in France, several varieties of which were named Le Negre, Nubienne, Belle Afrieaine, &c, indicating by their names the colour of the flowers. No doubt is entertained that the above Roses have never been used in the place of the Damask Rose, except on Mount Calvary near Paris, for the production of perfumes and highly-scented oils; neither can we ascertain from Greek records that the Centifolia, or the analogous double Rose Essigrose of Germany, has been used for that purpose, but only the true Damask Rose well known to the ancient Greeks. We know well, however, that in more modern times the Centifolia has been extensively cultivated in the plains of Adrianople and on the south side of the mountains Bermion for the manufacture of perfumes, but more especially for the celebrated attah of Roses. According to the recent researches of Mr. Baker of Kew the Rose of Adrianople is not in reality a Centifolia, but a Damask Rose, which alone supplies the true essence of Roses of Oriental India, Cashmere, and Morocco.

In the course of time several crosses have resulted from the Damask Rose and the Essigrose; they have many points, characteristic of their parents, in common, and found their way into other countries under different names. The dark-flowered varieties of the Provence Rose were also highly esteemed in Turkey. The Centifolia and the Provence or Turkish Rose are still held in high estimation throughout Asia.

Happening in 1837 to be at Etschmiadzin, in Russian Armenia, at the house of the Katholicos (Armenian Pope), where I was well received, he at each repast invariably placed either a Turkish or Provence Rose on my plate. The most select Turkish Roses then were the Sultan, Maheca, the Rose of Sérail, King of Persia, &c. During my four years' journeys in the East I came across this same Rose again cultivated in large quantities in the gardens beyond Etschmiadzin. Other travellers report having seen it cultivated in the far East—for instance, on the Himalayan Mountains. The director of the Viceregal Gardens in Egypt, M. Delchevallerie, also reports in his descriptions of the Egyptian gardens the cultivation of the Centifolia Rose.

The double Roses which Professor Ascherson brought from the great Oasis to Berlin are certainly only allied forms of the Damask Rose. The Damask Rose goes at times also under the name of Centifolia; such is the case for instance at Cashmere. Nevertheless this latter appellation is probably only of recent origin, and simply means a double Rose, or in other words a Rose with many petals.

8. Yellow Roses, Rosa punicea (Eglanteria, L.; and lutea, Mill).—We possess two varieties of yellow Roses with double and single flowers. One is the climbing Rose with single flowers, the principal variety of which has flowers with a red centre and yellow outside petals; it goes therefore also under the name of Rosa bicolor. This variety distinguishes itself a little from the others in the colour of the flowers, but the leaves of all the varieties when rubbed give off a very strong odour of bugs; for this reason they are also styled in Thuringia, Germany, where they were formerly extensively cultivated, Bug Roses, but more often Turkish Roses. The French call them "Rose Capucine." A variety with double but self-coloured flowers goes under the name of "Persian Yellow." This variety originated in Persia.

The other yellow Rose (Rosa Eglanteria) with double, crowded, and Centifolia-shaped flowers, is not often met with except in the country gardens of Germany. It is generally a very free-flowering Rose, but it absolutely lequires a clear sky and a warm dry temperature during the blooming season. With an overcast sky or during rain the flowers refuse to open and invariably split. It was probably obtained through the cultivation of the true Rosa Eglanteria.

M. Hausknecht. a celebrated botanist of Weimar in Thuringia, not long ago found this variety growing wild in Persia. —KARL KOCH (in Journal des Roses).