The Rose: Its History, Poetry, Culture, and
Classification, pp. 170-171 (1847)
Propagating Roses from Leaves
Samuel Browne Parsons
Some years since, Lecoq, a French cultivator, conceived the idea of endeavoring to propagate roses by the leaf. He gathered some very young leaves of the Bengal rose, about one quarter developed, cutting them off at their insertion, or at the surface of the bark. He planted these in peat soil, in one‑inch pots, and then plunged the pots into a moderate heat. A double cover of bell glasses was then placed over them, to exclude the air entirely, which course of treatment was pursued until they had taken root. The shortest time in which this could be accomplished was eight weeks, and the roots were formed in the following manner. First, a callus was formed at the base of the leaf, from which small fibres put forth; a small bud then appeared on the upper side (figure 16); a stalk then arose from this bud, which finally expanded into leaves and formed a perfect plant
An English writer remarks, that "the leaves or leaflets of a rose will often take root more freely than even cuttings, and in a much shorter time, but these uniformly refuse to make buds or grow."
This experiment is certainly very curious, and evinces how great, in the vegetable kingdom, are the powers of nature for the maintenance of existence, and is one of those singular results which should lead us to make farther experiments with various parts of plants, and teach us that in Horticulture there is yet a wide field for scientific research.
CybeRose note: The figure at right is from the1883 edition.
When attempting to duplicate old experiments, it is important to get all the details right. It may well be that a mature leaf will root but never produce a bud. However, Lecoq specified that immature leaves were used. That could make the difference.
This is indeed an interesting experiment, but it might be more practical totake a leaf with some bark and the axial bud still attached. Eight weeks is a long time for a propagator to wait for a young plant to begin growth.
Lecoq's experiment was discussed in La rose: son histoire, sa culture, sa poésie (1844) by Jean Loiseleur-Deslongchamps pp. 248-249.