American Rose Annual (1942)
Rosa Pratincola in a Hardy Rose-Breeding Program
William Godfrey

Experimental Station, Morden, Manitoba, Canada

    Editors' Note.—Again our Canadian friends push the breeding of roses hardy without protection in a climate where 40° below zero is quire ordinary during the long winter. Pursuing the use of a most interesting species called R. pratincola in the following article, but placed by the authorities as R. suffulta, a rumor was followed up, with the result here presented. (In the latest and most comprehensive index of rose species, as printed in "Standardized Plant Names," R. pratincola is made synonymous with R. suffulta and diligent inquiry shows that it has also been called R. arkansana.)
     Much previous discussion may be followed by referring in the Cumulative Index to hardiness titles on page 10 of that useful work.

CybeRose note: Greene (1911) wrote: "ROSA HELIOPHILA is a name that may be substituted for my R. pratincola published in 1899 (Pitt. iv. 13), for there is a Rosa pratincola of Europe, by A. Braun, which was published in 1888.
   In the dozen years that have passed since I named and described this half herbaceous rose of the sunny prairies of the middle West, several other forms like it in its low stature, merely suffrutescent growth, and corymbose terminal inflorescence, have come to light, and may be named and defined here."

Rosa suffulta (Also R. pratincola or R. arkansana)
A dwarf, bushy plant, usually less than a foot tall, with small, pink, fragrant recurrent flowers.

In breeding roses with hardiness as a prime objective, one of the most objectional characters which frequently occurs is the unattractive lilac shades of pink in the blossoms. Particularly is this the case when using R. blanda, R. acicularis and R. spinosissima. With R. pratincola, however, the coloring is invariably a pleasing shade of pink; whether it be a deep tint or diffused, it is definitely pink and without a bluish tinge.

One of the most outstanding examples at Morden is a Mary Wallace x R. pratincola cross. The coloring here is a deep or intense pink, without any suggestion of the salmon shade of Mary Wallace. There are two individuals from this combination, both very bright shrub roses, but neither hardy enough for our purpose. It may be well to state that R. pratincola appears to be of use only as a pollen parent. Attempts to use it as a seed parent have proved futile. The hips or seed-pods often will swell and ripen perfectly, but they are always empty of seeds. Mr. F. L. Skinner, at Dropmore, Manitoba, Canada, has had the same experience with it. His work is done outdoors, while at this station it is an under-glass project.

After a number of years of somewhat speculative work crossing species and garden varieties of rose, seeking for a line or lines of breeding work which promised success if pursued intensively, efforts are now being directed along two distinct lines.

The first concerns the combination of Ophelia, R. altaica, and R. pratincola, which is based on two individuals, namely Ophelia x R. altaica on the one side, and Ophelia x R. pratincola on the other. The Altaica cross is the hardier of the two, but the color is cream, overlaid near the margins with pink, while the other is a good pink. Both are five-petaled, of large size and thick texture.

The other line of work is based on one individual plant, a Ross x Dr. W. Van Fleet cross, and the objective in this case is a climbing or pillar rose. (For particulars regarding the Ross rose see the 1935 Rose Annual, page 115.)

This plant is in appearance almost identical with Dr. W. Van Fleet, although the seed parent is Ross. The plant equals, if not surpasses, Van Fleet in vigor, and possesses about the same degree of hardiness. Winter-killing averages about one-third of the year's growth. There is always sufficient healthy growth in spring to produce an ample display of bloom, but only an occasional one appears. The semi-double flowers are white, with reddish anthers, and the plant is capable of producing them in profusion. Its capacity is based on plants flowered under glass, and, curiously enough, by a plant growing in a garden one hundred miles north of here, where it is a great favorite.

There are two crosses with the last-mentioned plant which promise to give increased hardiness. These are x R. altaica and x R. pratincola. Of these the last-named is the more robust, and both are prolific seed-bearers. This matter of fertility is important because of the amount of sterility encountered in inter-species breeding. It is hoped that these two lines (namely, [(Ross x Van Fleet) x R. altaica] and [(Ross x Van Fleet) x R. pratincola]) when combined will yield something near our objective. Hardiness is represented by Ross, R. altaica, and R. pratincola, the climbing character by Ross and Dr. W. Van Fleet, and color by R. pratincola. We are very hopeful. And I think you should know that the American Rose Annual is, in my opinion, the best in contemporary rose literature.

The sheer beauty of R. pratincola is evident in the plate presented facing page 87. The rose is richly fragrant. The picture resulted from a plant sent to Dr. McFarland by Percy H. Wright in 1900 and bloomed indoors by Robert Pyle.

[CybeRose Note: Percy Wright would have been 2 years old in 1900, so this date is obviously not correct.]