Journal of Heredity, 6(1): 429-423 (Sept 1915)
ROSA HUGONIS: A New Hardy, Yellow Rose from China

IF YOU see a particularly beautiful picture hanging in a friend's house your first question is, "Who painted it?", yet how few of the people who visit a rose garden and admire the beauties of color and form ever realize that practically all of our cultivated double roses are almost as much the result of man's work as a picture is. These living forms have arisen from the greatest artificial mixing of species which man has been able to bring about by the process of hybridization.

Wild roses from all over the world have entered into their ancestry and made them what they are, so that to a rosarian the history of a rose's ancestry is quite as fascinating as is a family tree to a student of genealogy.

To create a rose which will delight thousands of people must be as keen and wonderful a pleasure as intellectual man can enjoy; long after he has crumbled to dust generations of beautiful women, happy children, old men and young lovers will bury their faces in its petals and forget for the moment all else but its beauty.

Next to this pleasure, perhaps, is the enjoyment that comes from finding a wild rose in some far off land where it blooms unseen by cultivated eyes, and knowing that it will become the admired and loved garden treasure of a whole great civilized country.

I do not know if Father Hugo Scallan still lives or not, nor whether his life was a happy one, but if he is alive it would surely give him the keenest kind of pleasure to watch the career of a yellow rose which he found in China.

In 1899 he sent seeds of this rose to the British Museum, the authorities there sent it to the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew—that great institution from which so many things of value have come into cultivation; and from Kew we obtained seeds for the United States. Very early each spring it blooms and it is yearly attracting the attention and arousing the enthusiasm of more and more flower-loving Americans.

Rosa hugonis is the name that has been given to this beautiful yellow rose that deserves a place in every dooryard in America. It is the earliest blooming of almost all the roses and earlier than any other yellow rose. It is of a lovely shade of yellow, is delicately perfumed and produces its single flowers in such profusion, as almost to conceal the plant. It is perfectly hardy, not being injured by -22° F., which cannot be said of most of the other yellow roses.

1 Arnold Aboretum, Harvard University Bulletin
of Information, New Series, Vol. 1, No. 5, p. 20.

At the Arnold Aboretum near Boston Professor Sargent says it is perfectly hardy and free flowering and is certainly one of the most valuable single roses which has lately been introduced into gardens."1

It seems entirely fitting that to Dr. W. H. Van Fleet, the originator of the Silver Moon and the Van Fleet roses, those masterpieces of rose hybridization, should be given the credit for insisting, as long ago as 1907, that Rosa hugonis be introduced into America for the dooryards of American homes and for the use of American rose hybridizers. It was his insistence that led the Department of Agriculture to import it from Kew Gardens.

In the photograph Rosa hugonis is shown as espaliered against the wall of the writer's house at North Chevy Chase, Md. Every spring, before anything but the Japanese flowering apricots (Prunus mume) and the single flowering Japanese cherries are in bloom, it has delighted all who have seen it, but even in winter it is ornamental because of its red-brown stems, red thorns and its picturesque growth.

This is not of so deep a shade of yellow as Harrison's yellow or the Persian yellow rose, but the bush seems to be perfectly hardy and it blooms with an abandon quite foreign to either of the others. Photograph of a bush espaliered against the house, In the Woods, North Chevy Chase. Photo by Crandall. (Fig. 16.)   Rosa hugonis trained on a wall trellis at In The Woods, North Chevy Chase, Md. One of the earliest of all the roses anti earlier than any other yellow rose. (Fig. 17.)

When not trained against a wall it grows to a height of about 5 feet and its stems are clothed with numerous slender spines which are bright red on the straight young shoots. Its leaves are thin and delicate and so far as the writer's observations go it is not subject to the rose spot disease which turns briar rose bushes, such as Lord and Lady Penzance, into long unsightly masses of naked stems before the summer is over.

This lovely yellow rose has one small drawback. It does not seem to grow easily from cuttings or slips. It seeds freely, however, and can be raised in this way even should a quicker way not be discovered.

To those who are interested in roses it may be a matter of satisfaction to know, that the breeding of this rose with others is now going on here in America, and the appearance of some new descendant of Father Hugo Scallan's rose is probably merely a matter of time.