The American Horticultural Magazine, 22(1): 12-14 (1943)
Hybrids of Rosa Setigera
Stephen F. Hamblin

The only American climbing wild rose is Rosa setigera. As a garden plant it has been developed mostly by American breeders. Of the work of Samuel Feast and others (about 1843 ) there still may be in gardens Queen of the Prairies (rosy red), Baltimore Belle (blush white), and at times others. These plants are a sort of climbing Hybrid Perpetual. American Pillar (Dr. W. van Fleet, 1902) was developed from R. setigera, perhaps as a hybrid with Crimson Rambler. It is practically a gigantic form of R. setigera, blooming earlier, single, light red. in huge panicles. It has been used abroad as parent of several seedlings, much as the R. multiflora Ramblers in effect.

The greatest advance in the use of this rose as a parent for hardy climbers has come through the many seedlings of M. H. Horvath, with HT. forms as the other parent. They are strong growers, not at all like Ramblers, but truly large-flowered climbers even more stiff of stem than Dr. W. van Fleet, considered as type of the hardy climbers with large solitary flowers. The plants are slightly hardier than the usual large-flowered climber, the hardiest climbers with large flowers, the foliage mostly of HT. character, the fruits very large.

The foundation of many of these climbing roses is a combination of Rosa setigera X wichuraiana, a very rampant grower, with slender very thorny stems, blooming late in June, pale pink in color, the flowers clustered, a true Rambler, of general habit of R. wichuraiana. This was produced by M. H. Horvath before 1925. Many crosses were made of this and garden sorts, some not formally named and few released for sale.

The first to be named and released was Mrs. F. F. PRENTISS (1925), being set-wich x Lady Alice Stanley, HT. This is probably the best of all once-flowering hardy large-flowered climbing roses in vigor, productiveness and hardiness. The flowers are of HT. form, large and clustered, full and flat when expanded to show the center, clear pink in color, slightly darker than Dr. W. van Fleet, fading to pale pink. The usual size is 2 1/2 inches across, the flowers fragrant (HT.), produced very freely from Mid-June to Mid-July in our northern states, in a long blooming period. It sets fruit freely, the hips quite large and well colored in winter. Thus it is specially adapted as a hardy climber where the native R. setigera is hardy. Its seedlings give quite a range of flower in size and color, and some show an everblooming character. One seedling gave pure R. setigera in leaf and habit, the flowers very double. Though Mrs. F. F. Prentiss has been offered by dealers, it is now not in the trade — a pity. The others of this series are similar in growth, differing mostly in the color of flower. There are three dark red forms to date:

PRESIDENT COOLIDGE (1925) is set-wich X Chateau de Clos Vougeot, HT. The flowers appear singly, not as abundantly as on most sorts, very full, firm and doubled to the center, almost a Zinnia in form, deepest red in color. In flower form and color it is the best dark red of the large-flowered climbers for our northern states. The color holds well, and each flower lasts many days. It produces few fruits. It is not in the trade, and has been but little distributed.

CAPTAIN KIDD (1934) is a setigera seedling X Hoosier Beauty, HT. It is described as very double, dark red, but it is not in the trade and rarely is seen.

THOR (1940) is (R. Alpha ?? X R. xanthina) X President Coolidge. The flower is very large, of double Peony form, dark red, almost scarlet, like a big red peony in effect. This good rose is in the trade.

Very like Mrs. F. F. Prentiss in color are:

JEAN LAFITTE (1934) is from a setigera seedling X Willowmere, of Pernetiana parentage. The flowers are said to be very double, dark pink, and though it is in some gardens, it is not available.

HERCULES (1938) is Doubloons X Charles P Kilham, HT. The flower is very large and double, often solitary, with globular center rose pink in color. It fruits freely. This is now in the trade and has all the values of the rare Mrs. F. F. Prentiss.

FEDERATION (1939) is (R. setigera X Mrs. F. F. Prentiss) X Director Rubio, HT. The flower is large and loose, of large petals, clear pink to rosy pink in color, the least double of the group, but the inner petals hide the stamens at first, like a loose peony. The flower is at least three inches across, with little fragrance, the petals curled in age, holding their color well. The special character is size of flower. Fruits are produced freely. This rose is in the trade.

MEDA (1942), most recent of the group, is (R. setigera X Mme. Butterfly hybrid) X Golden Dawn. HT. . The bud is very pointed, and the very large flower (often 4 inches) opens out flat, showing the center, the color soft shrimp pink, fading to flesh white, with little fragrance. The bud is very pointed, and the very large flower (often 4 inches) opens out flat, showing the center, the color soft shrimp pink, fading to flesh white, with little fragrance. Fruits are produced freely, huge globular green hips rarely showing red color. These three are very alike at a distance, with larger flower than Mrs. F. F. Prentiss or the normal Dr. W. van Fleet.

Very similar, but with orange tinge to the pink flower, are:

BUFF KING (1939) R. setigera X unrecorded pollen, the flowers soft pink and pale yellow. This is available, and also Mercurius (1940) which is Doubloons x R. damascena) X Clio, HP., the large flowers pale pink with lemon tinge. They are rather like Meda in general effect, the pink color being more prominent than the yellow.

With white flowers:

LONG JOHN SILVER (1934), from a setigera seedling X Sunburst, HT., has very large creamy white flowers, but it is not in the trade and is rarely seen. So also Iceland Queen (1938) with no parentage record, very large and double, pure white, but not in the trade, though in some gardens.

POLARIS (1939), the union of set-wich X Austrian Copper, is somewhat different. The flowers are of but medium size, pure white, not very double, opening flat, some 2 inches across, borne in broad panicles. It is a sort of double white setigera, with slight fragrance. This plant has Rambler foliage and makes very long slender thorny stems. It makes no fruits. It has been offered by dealers, but should be classed as a double white American Pillar, rather than a climber with HT. form of flowers.

Only one yellow is known as yet, this better known than all others of this group.

DOUBLOONS (1934) is a setigera seedling X Austrian Copper. The bud is conical, the flower quite full, rather flat when opened, with large yellow HT. flowers. There is little fragrance. Many dealers offer this rose, and some of the other colors of this group are suggested as its companions.

In regions where some Large-flowered sorts are not quite hardy, these setigera sorts of Horvath will usually survive the winter without special protection or being taken down from their posts. They are very thorny plants, the stems very stiff and stout, not at all pliant as are the Ramblers. Except for added winter hardiness the roses of this group are very like other robust sorts of the Large-flowered Climbers.

Some of the seedlings of the setigera-HT. crosses were bush sorts, differing from the usual HT. only in greater winter hardiness. The first two were Dooryard Delight and Mrs. Frank B. Stearns (1937), very similar and perhaps the same plant, the parentage being R. setigera X Lady Alice Stanley. HT. The flowers are of medium size, very double, clustered, of clear rose pink color. They are vigorous growers, very free blooming all season. Their special character is extreme hardiness, being unharmed by winter in our northern states without any winter covering, to be treated as HP. or Polyantha in hardiness. Though these two have been in the trade, they are rarely seen.

PINK PROFUSION (1938) is Mrs. F. F. Prentiss X Lady Alice Stanley. HT. The plant is very vigorous, but not tall; very slender, like a "Floribunda" sort. The flowers are rather small, very double (80 petals), like a small or pompon Zinnia, of two tones of pink. If you like small HT. roses these are delightful, and more double than most "Floribunda" sorts. This is in the nursery trade.

MABELLE STEARNS (1938), from Mrs. F. F. Prentiss x Souv. de Georges Pernet, HT., is a normal HT. plant, strong growing, with flowers of normal size, very double (80 petals), the petals somewhat curled back and overlapping like a full Zinnia, of peach pink color. It blooms freely all summer, as any good HT. rose should do. This is available.

SCARLANO or FAUST (1938), supposed to be (R. setigera X Papoose?) X Paul's Scarlet Climber, LC. gives loosely double flowers of cerise red, somewhat like Paul’s Scarlet, or the old Gruss an Teplitz.

Here are, then, four HT roses of R. setigera parentage. Among thousands of modern HT. sorts they receive little notice. But in our northern states, where the usual HT. rose must have special winter covering, their added hardiness is of definite value. There should be more of this group.

Thus, in both the Large-flowered Climbers and the bush HT. sorts it is possible, through the work of M. H. Horvath, to build in added winter hardiness from R. setigera as a parent. These hybrids arc scarcely different from the hardy climbers or bush roses produced from Asiatic R. multiflora or R. wichuraiana, but R. setigera is a very hardy native species.