Plantae Wilsonianae, vol. 2 (1916) p. 306-308
Edited by Charles Sprague Sargent

Rosa Brunonii Lindley, Ros. Monog. 120, t. 14 (1820). — Hooker in Bot. Mag. LXIX. t. 4030 (1843).

Western Szech'uan: Wa-shan, thickets, alt. 1300-2000 m., June and October 1908 (No. 1125); vicinity of Tachien-lu, A. E. Pratt (No. 278).

Rosa Brunonii is fairly common in the valley of the Tung River, where it forms tangled masses 6 m. and more high and as much in diameter. The Chinese plant differs slightly from the type of the species as described and figured by Lindley in its glabrous shoots and in the glabrous or nearly glabrous upper surfaces of the leaflets, but most of the Indian specimens before us also show glabrous shoots, so that it does not seem possible to separate the Chinese and the Himalayan plants.

We have restored this Rose to specific rank only after careful consideration. The discovery of several species of Musk Roses in China has caused us to consider Rosa moschata Miller as the centre of a group of these plants. For these species introduced into gardens in Europe and North America have come true from seed, maintained their distinguishing characters, and are so distinct that no horticulturist confuses them with the Musk Roses previously in cultivation. To us there appears to be a number of geographical segregates which agree with the musk Rose beloved of our ancestors, in having white flowers with a musk-like fragrance, a protruded club-shaped pistil, reflexed calyx-lobes and adnate stipules, but differing from each other in so many other particulars that they are easily recognized as distinct species and varieties.

The original Rosa moschata Miller (Gard. Dict. ed. 8, II. 950 [1768]) is an obscure plant in spite of the fact that it had been in cultivation in England fully a century and a half before Miller described it as "Rose with prickly climbing stem, leaves with 7 smooth lobes, glabrous when old and flowers in umbels," a description which does not help us much. Miller cites Rosa Moschata major J. Bauhin. In Bauhin's Hist. Pl. 11. 45, fig. (1650) there are figures of three forms of R. moschata. Bauhin states he found the R. moschata major in Burgundy and transferred it to his garden at Montbeliard, where it was not very hardy. Similar figures to those of Bauhin's appear in Lobel's Pl. Stirp. Icon. II, 207 (1581). The R. moschata Miller has been known in European gardens since early times. The first mention we can find is by C. Gesner as Rosa muscata in his Horti Germaniae (in V. Cordus, Annot. 276 [1561]); it is also mentioned by Turner in his Herbal, II. 116 (1568), and in a rather vague way by Mattioli in his Commentarii, where in later editions it is identified with the "Nesrim" of the Liber Serapionis. Parkinson (Paradisus, 419, fig. 6 [1629]) figures it under the name of Rosa moschata hispanica simplex.

1 This is apparently a manuscript name, as this specimen is enumerated by Schweinfurth in Bull. Herb. Boissier, IV. app. 2, 205 (1896) under R. abyssinica without any varietal designation.

Modern writers agree that the Musk Rose of our ancestors was native somewhere in the Mediterranean region. A specimen before us from M. Gandoger's Herbarium (No. 50), named Rosa ruscinonensis Grenier, and collected at Perpignan in the Pyrenees, agrees remarkably well with Bauhin's and Lobel's figures of R. moschata major, and Miller's description fits it more closely than it does any other Musk Rose we have seen. A specimen in the Gray Herbarium collected by G. Schweinfurth (No. 1741) On March 10, 1889, along the upper Wadi Nahemi above Attara at 1800 m. altitude, and named Rosa abyssinica R. Brown, f. glandulosa,1 differs from R. ruscinonensis Grenier only in being more prickly and more glandular, and in the leaflets being less membranous and pale on the underside. These two specimens we regard as representing the two extreme geographical forms of the Musk Rose of our ancestors, the R. moschata Miller.

The Musk Roses of China and India and that of the high mountains of Persia, R. moschata, var. nasturana Christ (R. Pissarti Carrière), distinguished at a glance by their larger leaves, much more numerous flowers in large rounded or paniculate corymbs, were unknown to botanists and to western gardens in Miller's time. In the latter half of the 19th century Crépin and other botanists believed that the range of Miller's R. moschata extended through Persia and northern India to the extreme east coast of China. Most of them admitted that the new forms discovered differed, however, from their conception of the original Musk Rose, and gave them varietal names. Our study, however, of this perplexing subject has convinced us of two things:— (1) That the Musk Rose of Miller is little if at all different from Rosa ruscinonensis Grenier and Déséglise apud Déséglise (in Billotia, I. 33 [18641), and from Rosa abyssinica R. Brown, and their intermediate forms: (2) that the Musk Roses of India and China are distinct from those known to Miller and his predecessors and that they are best considered geographical segregates under separate names since they display constant characters sufficient to distinguish them as species.

The Chinese Musk Roses referred by various botanists to R. moschata belong to several of the undermentioned species, but without seeing the specimens it is impossible to place them where they actually belong.

The Rose figured by Miss Willmott (Gen. Rosa, I. 33, t. [1910]) as R. moschata Miller is a form of R. Brunonii Lindley. Since this last named Rose is superior as a garden plant to the old Musk Rose, it has very generally supplanted it and it is doubtful if R. moschata Miller is now in general cultivation.