Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society 27: 507-509 (1902/3)
Notes on Chinese Roses
By GEORGE NICHOLSON, A.L.S., V.M.H.
IN the Chinese Empire there are about twenty-four species of the genus Rosa which have already been studied and described, and most of them have been introduced to British gardens. These species all belong to the first rank: that is to say, they are so distinct from each other that it is hardly probable that any botanist would attempt to unite any two of them. Incomplete material exists in herbaria which no doubt represents good species not yet described or introduced. Of the eleven groups into which Mr. J. G. Baker classifies the species of cultivated Roses, no less than eight are represented in the Chinese flora.
GROUP I.—Simplicifoliae.—This contains but a single species, R. simplicifolia (R. berberifolia), which, although a native of Siberia, Afghanistan, and Persia, has not yet been found in China.
GROUP II.—Systylae.—Seven species from China are included in this group, only one of which has not yet found its way into cultivation, viz. R. Davidi, related to R. moschata. R. Davidi, moreover, is one of some six or eight Roses which so far have never been found outside the Chinese Empire; others are anemoneflora, Banksiae, bracteata, and microcarpa.
R. anemoneflora is here treated as a species, although it may prove to be a hybrid between multiflora and laevigata. So far it is only known in a double-flowered state.
R. Leschenaultiana is Indian as well as Chinese; it is a strong-growing handsome climber, which unfortunately is not hardy in the neighbourhood of London. Probably, however, it would thrive in the south-western counties.
R. moschata and R. multiflora are too well known to need detailed mention.
R. Luciae approaches the Japanese R. Wichuraiana in general aspect; this latter has been received at Kew from Japan under the name of R. Luciae. I have not yet seen the true plant in cultivation.
R. Soulieana, described by Crépin in the Bulletin de la Société Botanique de Belgique xxxv. (1896), 20-23, was sent from Shen-si by Father Soulié; it has small white flowers, resembling in structure and inflorescence R. moschata, but differing markedly from that species in the form of the leaves and in the width of the bracts and sepals—and particularly so in the form of the latter. I have seen R. Soulieana in the fine collection of M. Maurice L. de Vilmorin at Les Barres.
GROUP III.—Banksianae.—Rosa Banksiae is too well known as a wall plant in the South of England to need more than a passing mention.
R. microcarpa is a very distinct small-fruited Rose, perhaps not in cultivation now.
The third Chinese species of this group is the so-called 'Cherokee' Rose, R. laevigata; this frequently proved tender and flowered sparingly in the neighbourhood of London, but of recent years stocks have been received from Japanese sources which prove hardier and more floriferous than those—probably of Chinese origin—previously in cultivation.
GROUP IV.—Bracteatae.—The 'Macartney' Rose (R. bracteata).
GROUP V.—Microphyllae.—R. microphylla.
The above two groups are represented in China by one species each.
GROUP VI.—Cinnamomeae.—Eight Chinese species are placed here, five of which are in gardens. Acicularis (dahurica, although regarded as a species by Crépin and others, is only a form of cinnamomea and so is not given specific rank in this enumeration), Beggeriana, macrophylla (Prewalskii, described by Regel as distinct, is only, according to Crépin, a form of macrophylla), rugosa, and sericea are so distinct and well-marked, and, moreover, so well known, that no description is necessary. R. Biondii and R. Giraldii, named by Crépin in honour of two Italian missionaries in China and described provisionally by him in Bull. Soc. Bot. Ital. 1897, 232-3, are not yet in cultivation. R. Prattii (Hemsley in Journal of the Linnean Society, xxix. t. 30) is a Western Chinese species yet to be introduced and a remarkably distinct plant, much resembling some Zanthoxylum in general aspect; it is easily distinguished by its small flowers, reflexed calyx-lobes, and small linear-laneeolate, closely-arranged, obscurely-toothed leaflets.
FIG. 145—Rosa spinosissima var hispida (The Garden)
GROUP VII.—Spinosissimae.—Two species enter into this group, our common native R. spinosissima (Fig. 145) and R. xanthina, the latter first introduced into cultivation from Afghanistan by the late Dr. Aitchison.
GROUP VIII.—Gallicae.—No representative of this section of the genus occurs in the Chinese Empire.
GROUP IX.—Caninae.—The common Dog Rose of our hedgerows may be taken as the type of this section of the genus. In China only R. indica and R. gigantea come into this group. The last-named species was first discovered in Burma by the late Sir H. Collett, but more recently has been collected on the mountains of Yunnan, both by Dr. Henry and by Hancock; we suppose that the name R. Collettii, which obtains in some gardens for this species, has been given to it by some one desiring to perpetuate the name of General Collett. It is important, however, to distinctly state here that there is a true R. Collettii which hails from the Shan States, and is as distinct from R. gigantea as two Roses can be from each other. R. Collettii (Crépin in Bull. Soc. Bot. Belg. 1889, 49) is a small-growing small-flowered Rose near R. microcarpa, and is remarkable for its free linear stipules, which are also fugacious. A good figure is published in the Journal of the Linnean Society, xxviii. t. x. On the other hand, true R. gigantea is a huge climber, with large leaves, and flowers five inches in diameter.
The first of these is represented in our gardens by the Apple Rose (R. pomifera), R. mollis, &c.; the second by the Sweet-brier, R. rubiginosa; the Chinese flora contains no representative of either group.