Gardeners' Chronicle 37: 260-261 (Oct 7, 1905)

ROSA SERICEA, Lindl., VAR. PTERACANTHA, Franchet.*

* Rosa sericea. J. D. Hook, in Flor. Brit. India, ii., p. 367.
   Franchet Plant., Delavay, part. i. (1889), p. 229.

Under the name of Rosa sericea "Les Grandes Épines," this remarkable plant was exhibited at the last Royal Horticultural Society's meeting by Messrs. Paul & Son, of Cheshunt, on behalf of Messrs. Vilmorin, Andrieux et Cie, and was awarded a First class Certificate. Previous to this it was exhibited at the recent international show at Edinburgh by the same firm, and received a Certificate of Merit. We have previously noted its exceedingly decorative character, and have now an opportunity of illustrating it. The extraordinary point about this plant is, as its name suggests, its enormously large, flat, decurrent prickles. These vary from 1 to 2 1/2 inches in length, frequently extending the whole length of the internode. These prickles are thin, translucent, of a bright blood-red, becoming brown and woody with age. When young and viewed with the light passing through them they are very beautiful. The parts of the stem not covered with the large prickles are densely clothed with bristles, which are also of bright red colour when young. In habit of growth, leafage, shape, and colour of flowers this variety is very similar to the well-known type or species.


Fig. 98.— Rosa sericea var. pteracantha: spines very large, decurrent, translucent, blood-red.
From a specimen exhibited by Messrs. Paul and Son. Cheshunt, for MM. Vilmorin, Andrieux et Cie.

In fruit two forms of the variety are distinguishable, one with yellow and one with bright scarlet-coloured haws. These two forms come true from seed, and appear each to occupy its own particular geographical area. The form with orange-coloured fruit occurs in Eastern Szechuan and Western Hupeh, China; the form with red fruits in Western Szechuan and Yunnan. Both forms grow on bare, grassy, or scrub-clad mountain-sides, between 3,500 and 6,000 feet. The type itself is very common in the woods and thickets of the same regions, and extends up to 11,000 feet.

The plant with three varieties is included in Maurice de Vilmorin's Fruticetum Vilmorinianum, 1904, pp. 97-99, c. ie.


Fig. 99.— Rosa sericea var. pteracantha
From a plant growing in Messrs. Veitch's Nursery at Coombe Wood.

The plants illustrated differ from Franchet's type in being nearly glabrous and not woolly, but two specimens in the Kew Herbarium, collected in Manipur by Sir Geo. Watt in 1881-82, are exactly intermediate in degree of hairiness between the extreme forms. The specimens of Sir Geo. Watt's are of peculiar interest, inasmuch as they extend the distribution of this variety to the eastern frontier of India. Specimens of Rosa sericea itself, in the Kew Herbarium, show equally varying degrees of hairiness.

Messrs. Vilmorin's plants were raised from seed sent from Western China by Père Delavay in 1890. In 1900 Messrs. Veitch, of Chelsea, received this same plant from their collector, E. H. Wilson. The accompanying illustration (see fig. 99) shows Wilson's plant, which is now 9 feet high and 10 feet through, growing in Messrs. Veitche's Coombe Wood Nursery.