Rosa spinosissima hispida (Species) []

The Garden (Nov 18, 1899) pp. 398-399
*Drawn for THE GARDEN by H. G. Moon in the Royal Gardens, Kew. Lithographed and printed by J. L. Goffart.

THE Roses that constitute the spinosissima (or pimpinellifolia) group are not only very charming in the beauty of their flowers, but they are also particularly welcome because they herald in the great Rose season. The plant now figured is one of this group, and it is one of the earliest to flower. I have seen it in bloom in the open air during the last week of May. It is a Rose about whose origin there has always been a good deal of doubt. It is known to have been cultivated in a garden at Islington as far back as the year 1781, but no record exists of when or from whence it was introduced. Loudon and others alluded to it as the "Yellow American Rose," and Pursh—a German botanist who published a "Flora of North America"—described it as R. lutescens and included it in that work. The later American writers, however, unanimously discard it. It was then generally looked upon as a native of Siberia, but as no authenticated wild specimens are contained in the public herbaria, this remains nothing more than a surmise—at the same time probably a correct one, judging from the fact that its nearest allies are found in that country. The theory that it was a hybrid of garden origin was disposed of when plants were raised from seed for these have invariably come quite true. Mr. J. G. Baker, our leading authority on wild Roses, now regards it as nothing more than a variety (probably Siberian) of the Scotch Rose, so that its proper name will be R. spinosissima var. hispida. Certainly it does not differ in any essential respect from the common Scotch Rose more than the variety of R. spinosissima known as altaica (or R. grandiflora) does.

The plants from whose flowers Mr. Moon made the accompanying plate are 5 feet to 6 feet high. Thus they are giants compared with the ordinary Scotch Rose. The stems are sturdy and quite erect, and thickly set with slender bristles. The leaf consists of seven to eleven leaflets, which are of a rich green and considerably larger than those of the Scotch Rose. Of the flowers, which are single and about 2 1/2 inches across, Mr. Moon's drawing will give a better idea than any words can. The colour is certainly, I consider, one of the most charming to be seen among these wild Roses; at first a delightful soft shade of yellow, it becomes paler and more creamy with age. As has already been intimated, this Rose can be increased by means of seed. Of this its black fruits enclose an abundance. Plants can be obtained more quickly, but in less quantity, by layering.

A group of some half a dozen plants in the sunk Rose garden at Kew always makes a lovely picture in the early days of June. To see it at its best, not less than that number of plants should be grouped together. Of course, it only blooms once a year, but, after all, that is a characteristic common to most shrubs, and there is certainly no lack of flowers when it is in bloom. To those who share in the reviving interest that is being taken in the wild types of Rosa, this plate of R. hispida will be welcome. It is a plant which ought not to be overlooked. Kew.