American Rose Magazine 3(7): 112-113 (January-February
Rosa Setigera (The Prairie Rose) and Its Hybrids
R. E. Shepherd, Medina, Ohio.
"ROSA SETIGERA, Michx. Prairie Rose. Shrub with prickly branches attaining 6 ft., with long and slender recurving or climbing branches; lfts. 3-5, ovate to oblong-ovate, shortly acuminate, serrate, tomentose beneath, 1-3 in. long: fls. in rather few-fld. corymbs, deep rose, fading to whitish, about 2 in. across, almost scentless; pedicels and receptacle glandular-hispid; style glabrous: fr. globular, 1/3 in. across. June, July. From Ont. and Wis. to Texas and Fla."
This rose is truly a citizen of our own United States, and, although found to some extent in Ontario, it is most abundant in the fields, pastures and roadsides of the Middle West, where its attractive display of bloom during late June and July does much to enliven an otherwise drab landscape. In addition to the basic species Setigera as described above by Bailey, a few variations deserve recognition.
Variety Tomentosa (R. rubifolia, not R. rubrifolia) has leaves that are more tomentose beneath, and the flowers, although of the same general color and form, are smaller and are borne in larger corymbs.
Varieties Inermis and Serena may be classified as spineless forms, although both may bear a few weak spines occasionally. The leaves of the first are glabrous beneath, and those of the latter are pubescent.
A variety as yet unnamed, but typically Setigera in form and habit, and bearing white flowers, has recently been located in Missouri.
As Setigera is dioecious, the amateur hybridizer who fondly hopes to follow in the footsteps of Feast, Van Fleet, Horvath and others who have used this rose, will find that he must first ascertain the sex of the plant he intends using. Otherwise he may be as deeply disappointed as was the writer who, on one occasion, spent several hours applying pollen to the blooms of an enormous Setigera only to discover later in the season that this particular bush was definitely of the male sex. The next season this bush was used as a pollen parent with gratifying success, as the pollen was found to be exceptionally functional. Sterility, in some cases, may be as high as 75 per cent. Incidentally R. setigera is the only American representative of the section Synstylae, in the subgenus Eurosa.
Until the recent introduction of the Horvath hybrids the most outstanding offspring of R. setigera was probably American Pillar, which apparently is one-third Setigera. Several hybrids that aroused interest during the middle part of the nineteenth century have been all but forgotten, with the possible exception of Queen of the Prairies and Baltimore Belle, which may still be found in some collections but whose present value is purely sentimental, as they have long since been superseded by more desirable Climbers. The foliage of these early hybrids more closely resembled the native Setigera than does the foliage of the more recent ones, but intelligent hybridization has greatly improved the color, form and texture of the flowers without sacrificing too much of the inherent hardiness of the species.
Although some difference of opinion may exist as to the quality of the Horvath hybrids, there is no doubt that all are valuable and are worthy of use in our gardens. On the basis of hardiness alone they deserve recognition by those who grow roses in the northern states. In the writer's opinion, Mr. Horvath does not release a rose until it has definitely proved its value. It is unfortunate that all hybridizers are not as particular.
From the low-growing but spreading Mabelle Stearns to the vigorous Climber, Hercules, Mr. Horvath has given the rose-lovers of America a group of reasonably hardy and healthy roses that bear flowers the equal of, or better than, many Hybrid Teas. Several are everblooming. Two Horvath Setigera hybrids that deserve better distribution than they have received are the Climbers, Jean Lafitte and Long John Silver. The former is now available in this country but, to the best of my knowledge, we must obtain the latter from an English source. When better known they will rate high in any group of Hardy Climbers.