Journal of the Royal Horticultural Society 27: 493-502 (1902/3)
New Hybrids to Aim At
By Monsieur Viviand-Morel

"IT is the dead who need killing," said some romantic person of Casimir Delavigne, one of the last classics. Without knowing it, perhaps, this critic, under this funereal but original form, meant to say that everything has its time and that the expression of an idea goes on modifying itself continually, so that it is unwise to tie oneself entirely to things of the past. Old ideas give rise to new ones, and they in their turn produce others. This is the great law of Progress already pointed out by Pascal in the following phrase: "Humanity is a man who lives for ever and is always learning." Nevertheless for man, whose life is short, progress is slow. One generation evolves an idea, another studies it better, and the following reaps the full benefit of it.

The preceding may serve as an introduction to the paper I have been asked to write upon the production of new Roses; for any intelligent gardener who will resolutely strike out on new lines, different from those pursued by our forefathers, is certain to secure excellent results.

This is not the place to write the history of the variations, as beautiful as they are striking, which Rose-fanciers have caused the most beautiful flower made by the Creator to assume—a volume would not suffice! On account of the general law, that the different species reproduce themselves from seed without any great variation, since a single cross hardly mixes their characters, Roses were in past ages, for the most part, such as they had been in form since the period of their creation. In the forests, on the hillsides, amongst the underwood on the mountains, wherever in fact they existed in a wild state, the single Roses remained single. On introducing the most beautiful of them to our gardens sundry of them soon began to double, triple, and quadruple the number of their petals under the influence of a higher cultivation. These were increased and there were several dozen varieties, very remarkable, no doubt, but for the most part differing little from each other. This is all that the gardeners of past ages have left us.

During the last century a new departure was taken, which altered the condition of things. On the discovery of the laws governing natural fertilisation we have established, though still in a somewhat superficial way, the theory of hybridisation. At the same time great travellers have introduced new species and races, with a lengthened season of blossoming, and of vigorous growth. The crossing of the European Roses with those of India produced the infinity of varieties which may now be found in all gardens.


FIG. 141.—Rose Aimée Vibert. (The Garden.)

It is for the most part to successive crossing and recrossing of Roses, and to the produce of their offspring, that the progress realised in the production of new varieties is due.

But it appears that the source of novelties threatens soon to give out unless the hybridisers seek a less beaten track than the-one they have been exploiting for the last half-century. It is to the investigation of this new path that we wish to encourage all Rose-growers.

Have you noticed that several classes of beautiful Roses, after having produced several fine improvements, have suddenly come to a stop as if they had become sterile? Beluze has only given us one single 'Souvenir de la Malmaison'; and no one has followed him. You may say that this Rose is perfect; if so I cannot agree with you. But do you not see that it is by no means easy to find a 'Malmaison' as pink as 'La France,' as velvety as ' General Jacqueminot,' or pure white like ' Aimée Vibert'? (Fig. 141.)

And if one could add to it a scent like that of the Provins or the Teas, would not that be a decided improvement?

But from whence sprang the 'Malmaison'? That is the question.

It is necessary to discover the ancestry of this Bourbon, and I do not think it will be impossible if we look back.

Monsieur J. B. Guillot discovered the marvel which we call 'La France.' This accomplished nurseryman, who has enriched our collections with some superb varieties, has left a good disciple in his son, Monsieur Pierre Guillot. Can he not create for us other varieties of the same ancestry, but of different colours?

The elder Monsieur Pernet found us 'Baroness Rothschild,' and happily, by a sport from it, 'Merveille de Lyon.' But we should like to see a scarlet or golden-yellow 'Baroness.' Is the mould in which this superb Rose was cast broken up? Is its mother-parent unknown?

Monsieur Levet produced 'Paul Neyron,' but we should be pleased if this immense Rose had been willing to give us some offspring.

If it were not for the fact that in most cases the production of new varieties is owing to chance, it might be possible to experiment again by crossing anew the same Roses which had already given such exceptional results —veritable chiefs of the line—without any great number of descendants. It will doubtless be said that one is never certain of the results which will be obtained from hybrids or their descendants. This is often probable, but not always certain.

However, let us leave the well-known Roses (on which, nevertheless there is much to be said) and go on to the well-defined types, from which it appears to me that we have not yet obtained all the improvements possible.

* Under the title of Hybrids, I mean the product of the crossing of any two species, and not the special section generally known under the name of Hybrid Perpetuals. To me the Bourbons, the Noisettes, the Polyanthas, &c., are also Hybrids.

In the study of hybrid Roses several alternatives present themselves,* amongst which the following are the principal:—

  1. The product of the cross between two species may be absolutely sterile.
  2. The product of the cross between two species may be sterile with its own pollen, but may be fertilised by one of its parents, or occasionally by both of them, or again by a variety which is entirely foreign to them.
  3. A species which is sterile with its own pollen may fertilise, or be fertilised by, another species, or a variety of mixed descent.

About 1830 Monsieur Hardy, head gardener at the Luxembourg Gardens, hybridised two interesting Roses, Rosa berberifolia, Pallas, and R. clinophylla, Thory. This cross gave a singular result, of which I shall speak somewhat at length.

Rosa clinophylla, Thory (syns. R. involucrata, Roxb., R. Lindleyana, Tratt.), is a species from India and China, and belongs to the section Bracteatae. It was figured by Redouté and in the Botanical Register.

Rosa berberifolia, Pallas, is such a peculiar species and so different from other Roses that several authors have thought that it ought to be placed in a different genus. Thus Dumortier made from it the genus Hulthemia, Lindley that of Lowea, and Bunge Rhodopsis.

This species is a native of Persia and Chinese Tartary. It is found in abundance near Harnadan and in the fields at the foot of the Elvend Hills. It there grows to a height of three feet. Its branches are slender. Its leaves are sessile, narrow, simple, oval, and serrated at the tips, covered with a fine down, without thorns and without stipules. Its flowers are solitary, the fruit fluffy, almost round, and covered as far as the sepals with fine unequal thorns. Sepals downy and entire. Petals of a rich yellow, with a crimson spot at the base.

Rosa Hardii was described for the first time in 1830 by Cels ('Annales de Flore et de Pomone,' p. 372), by Paxton in 1843 (Magazine of Botany, x. p. 195). It has only retained the flowers of R. berberifolia. It is a small bush, growing two or three feet high. Its branches are spreading, slender, flexible, reddish, slightly velvety, armed at the insertion of each petiole with two twin thorns with a single one underneath them, forming a triangle. The deep-green leaves are composed of six or seven lanceolate and arrow leaflets, sharply serrated. The flowers are single and numerous, larger than those of R. berberifolia, with golden-yellow petals, the base covered with a purple spot larger than in R. berberifolia. These flowers are occasionally in bunches of two or three, but more generally they are solitary. The peduncle is short and slightly mossy the calyx is globular and bristling with numerous fine thorns. The stamens are very numerous and of a beautiful yellow, a little lighter than the petals. Rosa Hardii was put into commerce in 1830 by Messrs. Cels frères.

This Rose of Hardy's, which is spotted with purple like a Cistus ladaniferus, is sterile; moreover it has a single flower like that of its two parents. The presence of the spots at the base of the petals is an interesting fact from a horticultural point of view. Do you not see the means offered by this peculiarity of adding this characteristic to some of the finer varieties with double flowers? To ask the question is to answer it. And why should not this singular peculiarity be fixed? M. Pernet-Ducher, in a hybrid of which I shall speak later, obtained a singleflowered Rose which, instead of purple spots, showed a pure white star at the base of pink petals.

* Rosa Harrissoni passed with certain people as a hybrid between R. lutea and R. pimpinellifolia. See the Journal de la Societe Nationale d'Horticulture de France, 1901, p. 884.
+Lyon-Horticole, 1894, p. 266.

HYBRIDS OF Rosa lutea.—This yellow Rose, with its brilliant colour, has been the subject of numerous attempts at crossing, of which most have given only negative results.* Monsieur Alegatiere and numerous other hybridisers were completely stranded when attempting to use this Rose as the seed-bearing parent. The reverse cross, on the other hand, appears to have some happy surprises for anyone who will try it afresh with various seed-bearing parents. Already M. Pernet-Ducher the younger, with 'Soleil d'or,' has shown the direction to be taken. In 1891 M. Pernet showed at the Bureau de l'Association Horticole Lyonnaise two hybrid Roses about which I published the following description+:—

Hybrids of the Yellow Rose.—The beautiful Roses of hybrid origin which adorn our gardens do not always offer a well-marked scientific interest. Their parentage is generally not certainly known. They are "crossbreeds"—quadroon bastards—whose exact position in the Rose world is uncertain. Even if one can say of some of them that they are the result of one known variety crossed with another, it means little, as the father and mother are generally hybrids themselves, whose origin is lost in the darkness of mixed generations. It is then with real satisfaction, which all who are interested in the subject of hybridisation will doubtless share, that I proceed to make known a hybrid Rose whose father is known to be of a type not hitherto made use of, a type quite pure, with marked characteristics. This hybrid is due to our able colleague Monsieur Pernet-Ducher the younger, a rosarian at Lyons, one of the luckiest raisers in our country, to whom we owe some very fine varieties, especially amongst hybrid Teas—the section of the future.

The hybrid I speak of, obtained by Monsieur Pernet the younger, takes two forms: one a single flower, which all botanic gardens and lovers of scientific curiosities ought to possess; and the other a double flower, which is worthy to contribute to the ornamentation of our gardens.

* The following are the chief synonyms of this species published by Pronville

  • R. lutea. DODON. Pempt. 187.—BAUH. HIST. 2. 47.
  • R. lutea simplex. BAUH. Pin. 483.-BESL. Eyst. vern. ord. 6 fol. 5.
  • R. Eglanteria. LINN. Sp. 703.—WIBEL.. Werth. 263.—ROTH. Germ. 1. 217-2. 553.—DECAND. Fl. fr. 4. 437.—PERS. Syn. 2. 47.—MER. Par. 189.—REDOUT. Ros. 1. 69. t. 23.
  • R. lutea. MILL. Dict. n. 11.—DUROI. Harbk. 2. 344.—MOENCH. Meth. 688.—WILLD. Sp. 2. 1064.—LAWR. Ros. t. 12.—CURT, Bot. Mag. t. 363.—AIT. Kew. 3. 258.—GMEL. Bad.-Als. 2. 463. — SMITH. in Bees in 1.-Bar. Enum. 157.—PRONV. Somm.
  • R. foetida. HERM. Diss. 18.—ALLI0N. Ped. 2. 138
  • R. chlorophylla. EHR. Beit. 260.
  • R. cerea. ROESSIG. Ros. t. 2.
    Var. B. punicea. Floribus bicoloribus.
  • R. sylvestris austriaca. Flore puniceo. Hort. Angl. 66.
  • R. punicea. MILL. Diet. n. 12.—DUROI. Harbk. 3. 347.—ROESS. Ros. t. 5.
  • R. cinnamomea. ROTH. Germ. 1. 217 and 2. 564.
  • R. lutea bicolor. JACQ. Vind. 1. t. 1.—LAWR. Ros. t. 6.—SIMS. Bot. Mag. t. 1077.—AIT. Hort. Kew. ed. alt. 3. 258.—SMITH. in Bees in 1.
  • R. Eglanteria punicea. REDOUT. Ros. 1. 71. t. 24.

The following is the origin of the hybrids in question:—The pollen parent is the Rose known under the name of 'Persian Yellow'; the mother is the variety 'Antoine Ducher.' The 'Persian Yellow' Rose, imported from Persia in 1833 by Willock, passes as a double variety of the Yellow Rose (Rosa lutea) cultivated for more than three centuries under different names.* The 'Yellow Rose' type, which has often been confounded with the 'Sulphur Rose,' presents a fixed variation, to be found in collections under the name of the 'Capucine Rose' (R. punicea, Mill.). All gardeners know this variation. I say variation and not variety, as it is not unusual to find both sorts of flowers on the same bush. I will not give here the scientific description of Rosa lutea and its derivatives, 'Persian Yellow' and 'Capucine,' which those who are interested in the matter can find in all the books. I will only point out that amongst the characters which allow it at first sight to be distinguished from all other species are that the colour of the bark is of a fallow brown and shining, the flowers numerous but solitary, giving out a smell of bugs, which is anything but pleasant.

The Rose 'Antoine Ducher,' which has served as the seed-parent to the two plants about which I am now speaking, is in itself a Hybrid Perpetual produced by Ducher in 1867, and remarkable for its large flowers, which are double, bright red, and of a globular shape

The parents being thus known, now let us study the offspring. I have already said that they are two in number, the one single, the other double. The following are the descriptions of them as given in the Report of the Meeting on May 15, where they were both shown.

The single variety:—A very vigorous-growing bush with spreading branches, but more erect than in the lutea type; wood red-brown, furnished with thorns more in number but less projecting than those of the type. Leaves composed of lanceolate leaflets finely serrated like those of the 'Persian Yellow,' from which it differs by the colour being deeper and the shape less round, flowering in a bunch or corymb of from two to five flowers; bud oval; flower composed of two rows of petals of medium size, coloured yellowish underneath and carmine pink above; the base of the petals is much coloured with yellow and bleaches altogether when entirely expanded, forming a star in the centre of the flower. The reproductive organs, the pistils and stamens, are perfectly formed; nevertheless, so far, all the seeds have proved sterile as in R. punicea.

The double variety:—This flowered for the first time in 1894. It is a most valuable variety from a horticultural point of view.

The bush, less vigorous than the former, has a growth and habit reminding one of a Hybrid Perpetual. Its branches are erect, armed with thorns rather like those of R. punicea, but more numerous; leaves rounded, somewhat resembling those of the hybrid perpetual Roses.

Flowers solitary, large, globular, very double, of a fine golden yellow, shaded with apricot-pink in the centre, which colouring distinguishes it from "Persian Yellow."

One peculiarity alone suffices to, show the hybrid origin of this variety: the flowers have a very pronounced odour of the Centifolia Roses, whilst that of R. punicea is disagreeable.

These two Roses suggest the following remarks:—

  1. The influence exercised by the pollen of Rosa lutea on 'Antoine Ducher' is very remarkable. The influence shows that the pollen-parent in this instance has almost obliterated the characteristics of the seed-parent, the two hybrids in question having preserved most of the salient features of the Yellow Rose, R. lutea.
  2. One notices in the single-flowering hybrid the introduction of a coloured star in the centre of the flower. A like star is also found in Hardy's Rose, which, we know, is a cross between a yellow Rose and one of another species—Rosa berberifolia x clinophylla.
  3. In the case of the double Rose, the unpleasant scent of the 'Yellow Rose' has disappeared and has changed to the sweet smell of the Centifolia Roses, or of some of the Hybrid Perpetuals.
  4. Compare with this the result of a cross made by myself with different species. Rosa pomifera crossed with the pollen of the Common Bengal Rose. The resulting plants have all been alike and have resembled throughout the seed-bearing parent. It is exactly the reverse of what happened in the case of the hybrid obtained by M. Pernet the younger.
  5. From the foregoing remarks we may conclude that in the same genus, but operating on different species, the results obtained by hybridisation are contradictory. In practice, then, we cannot foretell the influence which the pollen-bearing parent or the seed-bearer will respectively have upon the offspring.

It has been shown, then, that the pollen of Rosa lutea is capable of fertilising the Hybrid Perpetuals, if not all of them, at least one or two, and probably a very large number. There still remains, it is true, the sterility of these new hybrids, which it is necessary to partly overcome, even if it cannot be entirely suppressed. I have an idea that this can be accomplished by varying the sections on which the new hybridisations are tried.

* Journ. Soc. Nat. d'Hort. Fr. 1901, p. 884.
† CybeRose note: 'Harison's Yellow was introduced about a decade before 'Persian Yellow' reached England and the U.S.

The following is the commencement of the trials which M. Allard, the able florist of the Maulévrie, made with seedlings of Rosa Harrissoni,* which is considered to be a hybrid, one of its parents being 'Persian Yellow'† or R. Eglanteria. He obtained numerous specimens with single flowers, white, pink, and yellow, and one semi-double whose flowers approach closely, both in colour and shade, to those of Rosa Eglanteria; but all of them are in other respects like Rosa pimpinellifolia. Rosa Harrissoni likewise possessing most of the peculiarities of Rosa pimpinellifolia, and the flower of the 'Yellow Rose,' it is to be presumed that it is a hybrid between the two.


FIG. 142.—ROSA ALBA ODORATA. (The Garden.)

FIG. 143.— ROSA BANKSIAE, WILD FORM. (Gardeners' Chronicle.)

HYBRIDS OF THE MACARTNEY ROSE.—From the Macartney Rose (Rosa bracteata) two garden varieties have been obtained, of which one is known by the name of 'Maria Leonida,' and the other as R. alba odorata. But nothing more has come of them, as they are sterile hybrids. (Fig. 142.)

Rosa bracteata, Wendl., shares with R. involucrata, Roxb., and R. Lyellii, Lindl., a section of the Indian Roses, to which it has given its name. It has the following synonyms:—R. Macartnea, Dumon de Courset, and R. lucida, Lawr., not Ehrh. It has a variety called scabricaulis, which might probably constitute a small species of its own. Authors are not agreed as to the name of the introducer of the bracted Rose. Some attribute it to Lord Macartney, Ambassador to China, others to George Staunton. Cels had it in his garden in 1795. It has been figured by Ventenat, Roessig, Redouté, Wendland, and Miss Lawrence.

The Rose 'Maria Leonida' is supposed to be a hybrid between the single Macartney Rose and the Musk Rose—I imagine one with double flowers. If this origin is the true one, I expect it was the Musk Rose that supplied the pollen. I found this opinion upon what one knows about hybrids of the first generation between distinct species, that it is the seed-bearing plant which gives the principal characteristics of growth and habit. 'Maria Leonida' has preserved, in effect, almost all the botanical peculiarities of Rosa bracteata. Admitting as proved this origin of 'Maria Leonida,' a sterile hybrid, as so often happens when two distinct species are crossed. Rose-breeders may perhaps be able, by careful choice of pollen, to obtain, other remarkable varieties, or some fertile plants which by mongrel breeding would give us some new varieties.

HYBRIDS OF BANKSIAN ROSES.—A long time ago I received from Monsieur Michelange Console some seed of the two double varieties, white and yellow, of this remarkable species. Having sown them, I obtained the identical plants pure and simple. No variation whatever occurred. Nevertheless it is probable, that, since the double Banksian Rose produces seed, one could obtain crosses from it. Moreover, it has been suggested that a cross has already been made between it and Rosa laevigata, and that it produced Rosa Fortuniana, Lindley. This is an encouragement for those of our fellow-workers on the Mediterranean shores, where the Banksian Roses abound, to make experiments in this direction, either in using the pollen of them, or using them as the seedbearing plants. Fig. 143 shows the single wild form of Rosa Banksiae.

NOISETTE ROSES.—We know that the Noisettes are of hybrid origin, and that their ancestors are supposed to have belonged to the Musk Roses (Rosa moschata) and the Indian Roses (R. indica). The descendants of these Roses, either from ordinary seeds or after fresh crossing, have given us the hybrid Noisettes, and very probably most of the bush Roses, which florists, for want of a better name, have classed amongst the Tea Roses. It seems as if the source from whence the Noisettes were obtained might be nearly exhausted. Perhaps we might infuse it with fresh vigour, by beginning new crosses either with different forms of Rosa moschata or with other species of the same class, such as R. Brunonii, abyssinica, Leschenaultiana, &c. It might be possible also to rediscover the original Noisettes, or their immediate descendants, with which different crosses might be tried; because, since the first varieties of this section were obtained, numerous different Roses have been either introduced or raised in our gardens, and in them we have new material to work with.

ROSA MICROPHYLLA.—We cultivate, in France under the name of Chataigne (or Chestnut) Roses, several varieties of this Japanese species, which are remarkable from the fact of the calyx being always covered all over with straight thorns, set close together. It would be interesting to try crossing this species with the ordinary or with the perpetual Moss Roses.

BOURBON ROSES.—This family of Roses appears to have already made its supreme effort, stopped in its attempts at variation by the sterility of even its finest seeds, and by the disappearance of the seed-bearing powers which produced 'Souvenir de la Malmaison,' for example.

It would possibly be useful, for the sake of trying them afresh, to rediscover the first descendants of this type, or in default of this, to try to reproduce them again by crossing an Indian with a Damask Rose, since we are assured that this was the origin of the Bourbon Rose.

From the observations I have already made (which, however, could be much more developed, if I were not afraid of abusing the patience of the Congress) we can draw the following conclusions:— Certain sections of the Roses cultivated in our gardens appear to have given the highest results of which they are capable. Seed, pure and simple, only produces, by atavism, very slight variations, often inferior to their, progenitors. On the other hand, their crosses with each other, from being but little more fertile, seem unable—except in the case of some classes of Hybrid Teas—to produce any varieties very distinct from their parents. It is time then, I think, that Rose-raisers, having now at their disposal new material for hybridisation, should try crosses between types of Roses widely different, as regards form, colour, and habit, from those actually in cultivation in our gardens. There is particularly room for experiments among the old Noisettes, the Yellow Rose, the Berberifolia group, the Banksians, R. pimpinellifolia, R. bracteata, B. rugosa, B. microphylla, and such like.