Gardeners' Chronicle 31(809): 438-439 (June 28, 1902)

Augustine Henry

THE WILD FORM OF ROSA INDICA, L., was established by Linnaeus as a species, and the specimen in his herbarium belongs to this species. The plant is not admitted by Hooker as a native of India, and it is excluded from the flora of Japan by Matsumura. It was introduced into cultivation in England by Sir Joseph Banks in 1789.

The only wild specimens known are those collected by me in the glens near Ichang, in Central China; and I have no reason to doubt that they are truly wild. The illustration (fig. 170) now given is taken from my No. 1151, which shows the plant in flower. The fruit shown is from No. 4181. No. 1151 was collected in the San-yu-tung glen, off the Ichang gorge, in two places, where the Rose occurred as a large shrub climbing over rocks, with single flowers, generally deep red, but occasionally pink in colour; these specimens were collected in April. No. 4131 in fruit was collected on July 31 in a wild glen also on the Ichang gorge, but on the opposite side of the river, many miles distant to the south-west. My note taken at the time, says that it resembled the Banksia Rose in habit, i.e., it was a large, straggling climber on the side of the ravine. This specimen shows only trifoliolate leaves, and these are smaller than those of the flowering specimens, which have both three and five leaflets; otherwise the leaves are identical.

The wild form may be described as a large climbing shrub, armed with brown, scattered, hooked prickles. The leaves have either three or five leaflets, which are ovate or elliptic, acuminate, serrate; they are dark green above, and glaucous underneath. The stipules are narrow, adnate almost to the top, finely-toothed on the edge, and ending in a subulate point. The flowers are solitary, thus differing from many cultivated forms. There is a specimen, No. 96, in the Kew Herbarium, collected by Oldham in Formosa, which has single flowers; but I doubt this being a wild plant. The leaves are very different in aspect from the Ichang plant; they are not glaucous underneath.


Rose gigantea, Collett, which was discovered in the Burmese Shan States, was also found by me in Yunnan. It is close to Rosa indica in technical characters; but it may be readily distinguished by the much larger flowers, which are always white. The sepals have not the curious appendages that occur in Rosa indica. In Rosa gigantea the leaves are often seven-foliolate, and the fruit is much larger than in the other species.


Lady Banks' Rose was first introduced into England in 1807, by Kerr, and this was the double white-flowered-variety. The yellow double-flowered kind was brought in later by Parks, in 1824. Under cultivation a single state of the last has been obtained, which is described and figured in Bot. Mag., t. 7171. In the wild state, yellow flowers do not seem ever to occur.

This Rose is recorded as occurring wild in Japan by Franchet and Savatier (En. Pl. i., 137), as it was supposed to have been collected there by Siebold. It is, however, excluded from the flora of Japan by Matsumura, and it is now known to be a native of the western mountainous half of China. It has been gathered wild by David in Shensi, by Potanin in Kansu, by myself in Hupeh and Szechwan, and by Delavay in Yunnan. Through this wide range of latitude, the plant exhibits considerable variation. In the Kansu specimens the leaves are small, often trifoliolate, and hairy. In my Central China specimens the leaflets are glabrous, variable in size, and generally five in number. Delavay's Yunnan specimens are nearly glabrous, and the leaflets are more often seven in number. In cultivated forms the leaflets are nearly always five, as the third pair of leaflets is seldom developed. In cultivated plants prickles rarely occur, whereas in the wild form they are nearly always present.


The illustration now given (fig. 171) is taken from my No. 5552, which was collected in South Wushan, in Szechwan, in ravines and hedges, at 2000 to 3000 feet altitude. This Rose is also common in the province of Hupeh, in the Yangtse gorges near Ichang, where it is a large climber, hanging down from cliffs (my Nos. 1153, 2922, 3198). In my specimens the plant is glabrous, always armed with hooked prickles, somewhat dilated at the base. The leaflets are generally five in number, though three and seven occur; they are more or less ovate-lanceolate and serrulate. The stipules are very characteristic, being long bristles; they drop off early, and are only to be seen on some of the flowering specimens. The flowers are small, white, and fragrant; they are borne in false umbels, which are generally many-flowered, but in some cases are much reduced, so that only two flowers occur.

Delavay's Yunnan specimens at Kew are only in fruit; they show seven leaflets, and are glabrous and prickly. Franchet, however, in describing the flowering specimens sent by Delavay, says that they are unarmed sometimes, and that three and five leaflets occur, which are pubescent on the median nerve, and occasionally also on the petioles and petiolules. Potanin's specimens are very pubescent on the petioles and petiolules.

There are specimens at Kew, No. 10,508, which were obtained by my native collector in Yunnan. They are semi-double, and evidently cultivated; they have long, narrow, small leaflets, seven in number.

The Banksia Rose has long been cultivated in China, and from that country it has been introduced into Japan and Europe. It is known to the Chinese as Mu-hsiang, i.e., "wood-fragrance." It is figured and described in the Chih-wu-ming, xxi., 47, as a cultivated double-flowering Rose, with five-foliolate leaves. The author mentions several kinds: "That with small white flowers which have a purple centre, is most deliciously fragrant. The non-fragrant variety has yellow flowers, with a green centre." He also speaks of a third kind, with large, white flowers, not remarkable for their fragrance. His remarks on the two first kinds agree with the figures of the forms originally introduced into England. The cultivated yellow double-flowered variety is less fragrant than the white-flowering kind in this country; and the stigmas, &c., in the centre of the double flowers show the difference in colour in the two kinds that is noted by the Chinese author. The Chinese Herbal mentions the Banksia Rose as having small fragrant flowers, and this work was written in 1578.

Rosa microcarpa, Ldl. [R. cymosa Tratt], bears a considerable resemblance to Rosa Banksiae in the shape of the leaflets and of the stipules, and in the smallness of the flowers and fruit; but in it the styles are coherent. The most obvious distinction lies in the outer sepals of Rosa microcarpa, which have spinules on the back, and denticulate or spinuliform appendages on the margins. These spinules, &c., are totally wanting in Rosa Banksiae.

Rosa Colletti, Crépin, discovered in the Shan States of Burma, is very close to R. microcarpa, agreeing with it in styles, appendaged sepals, &c. It is apparently a tomentose geographical form of that species, and is interesting, because we find in certain plants (such as Albizzia Julibrissin), tomentose forms as we leave China and get into the warmer regions of Burma and India.