Journal of Heredity 10(3): 136-138 (1919)
New Pillar Rose
W. Van Fleet

A MOST promising new hardy pillar or low-climbing rose of composite parentage, a result of applying pollen of a vigorous hybrid between the new Chinese Rosa Soulieana and R. setigera, the wild Michigan or Prairie rose, to the stigmas of an unusually hardy seedling of R. Wichuraiana that had the Tea rose Devoniensis as its pollen parent. All other seedlings of this crossing have a tinge of pink imparted by R. setigera, but the blooms of W.S. 18 are pure white, relieved by the prominent yellow stamens that characterize three of the four species involved in its production. The flowers are borne in graceful clusters covering the whole plant, as shown in the illustration, and are succeeded by an equal number of good-sized deep red fruits that endure with little change in coloring all winter. The blooms are over 2 inches across, of perfect form and great substance, remaining in good condition for several days and are so thickly set that the petals nearly touch over the whole surface of the foliage, which is thick, firm and of a pleasing bluish-green shade. The canes are strong, arching, with heavy side-shoots bearing the great flower clusters, and are naturally so well arranged that little support or pruning appears to be needed. The plant proved entirely hardy during the past test winter that killed many supposedly hardy roses to the snow line.

The season of bloom at Washington is early June, and there is considerable fragrance of the character usually associated with the musk rose, to which Rosa Soulieana belongs. W.S. 18 has not yet reached its full development and will probably grow 10 or more feet higher in favorable situations, and doubtless will find its greatest utility as a specimen tall bush or pillar rose, in open situations rather than as a porch climber. It is hardy and vigorous and appears resistant to all foliage and cane diseases that affect roses in this climate.

Rosa Soulieana, was discovered about 1895 by the French explorer Pere Soulie growing in fair abundance along the upper reaches of the Yalung River in Southwest China and was soon after established in England, where it is regarded as perfectly hardy and grows in the open perhaps more vigorously than any other rose species. It was brought to this country in 1909 by the Office of Foreign Seed and Plant Introduction, and has turned out to be only doubtfully hardy about Washington, but otherwise well worth growing as an oriental wild rose. It is very floriferous when not too severely injured by winter, the creamy-white flowers, an inch or more across, being disposed in dense terminal corymbs, while the buds are pale yellow just before expanding. The strong canes grow 7 or 8 feet high in a season, and the abundant bluish-green foliage appears rarely troubled by insects or disease. The tendency to kill back in winter, however, has made it desirable to interbreed this interesting newcomer with other rose species and varieties of undoubted hardiness, and W.S. 18 is at this time the most promising outcome, though many attractive seedlings, some of dwarf growth with double blush and white blooms borne throughout the growing season, have been secured. Rosa Soulieana, blended with desirable hardy rose species and varieties, appears likely to prove a valuable acquisition to the equipment of the breeder of garden roses.

In W.S. 18, Rosa setigera appears only to have contributed hardiness, R. Soulieana habit, foliage and abundance of bloom, while R. Wichuraiana and Devoniensis (R. odorata) size, substance and finish of the individual flowers.

1 Rosa Soulieana X W.S. 18, Raised Bell Experiment Plot, Glendale, Maryland, 1915.


Rosa soulieana x R. setigera ♀ x R. wichuraiana x R. odorata ♂. Blooming twig about two-thirds natural size. Photoraphed by Dr. W. Van Fleet at Bell, Maryland, June 12, 1918. (Fig. 18.) Rosa soulieana x R. setigera ♀ x R. wichuraiana x R. odorata ♂. Raised at Bell, Md. Plant three years from seed. Photoraphed by Dr. W. Van Fleet at Bell, Maryland, June 12, 1918. (Fig. 19.)

CybeRose note: This is an excellent example of how confusion regarding parentage gets started. In the text we are informed that (R. soulieana x R. setigera) provided the pollen, but the captions of the two pictures indicate that (R. wichuraiana x Devoniensis) was the pollen parent.