Rural New Yorker, Volume 67: 788 (Oct 10, 1908)
Walter Van Fleet

THE CHEROKEE ROSE.—A very interesting rose species is Rosa laevigata, native to eastern China and the adjoining islands of Formosa and southern Japan. While unfortunately not hardy in the North, it has long run wild in our Southern States and certain of the Bahama Islands, where it is universally admired under the name of Cherokee rose. It is a vigorous growing and high climbing shrub with shining evergreen foliage and slender green branches, armed with probably the most viciously hooked prickles of the genus. The flowers do not come in clusters, but are borne singly in the greatest profusion early in the year, and more sparingly at the end of summer. The color is pure white, rarely rose-tinted, with conspicuous clustered yellow stamens. They range from three to four inches in diameter, and are justly ranked among the most attractive of wild rose blooms. The fruits or heps that follow are large and covered with bristles. The Cherokee rose is occasionally planted for defensive hedges in the South, as its cruel thorns are very effective in repelling intruders. In the North it is sometimes grown under glass, where it flourishes and blooms with great freedom. But it is in California—the land of horticultural surprises—that it appears to best advantage. Mr. Sidney Hockridge, Redlands, Cal., writes:

Our soil is a red calcareous drift with perfect drainage, just suitable for strong-growing roses, while our hot Summers ripen the tender wood of the Cherokee so that nowhere else in this country is there to be seen such profusion of bloom, and travelers tell me that the Cherokee rose plants noticed in the Japan Archipelago did not approach in capacity for bloom those we have in our vicinity.

Distinct and desirable as the species is, it has been little used for the production of new varieties. There is in commerce a fine variety known as Anemone, with very large, bright pink, single flowers more profusely borne over a longer period than those of the type. It first appeared in southem-Europe, and is generally supposed to be a hybrid with a Tea rose. It is without doubt a lovely plant, much liked abroad for conservatory decoration and for outdoor culture where the climate permits. Mr. Hockridge says it blooms over a period of seven weeks in Spring and again less freely in Fall in his locality, the blooms coming in clusters, and not solitary as in the type. He regards it as a variety of great beauty, unfortunately still scarce in this country. Another reputed hybrid with the slender-growing and almost thornless Rosa Banksiae of China, is listed as R. Fortuneana. It has climbing prickly stems and large double yellow-white blooms, but it is so difficult to cultivate that it is seldom seen of late years.

AUTHENTIC CHEROKEE HYBRIDS.—Notwithstanding the vigorous growth of the Cherokee rose under favorable conditions it appears difficult to produce artificial hybrids of sufficient vitality to grow to flowering size. We have made many crossings on the Rural Grounds, using a typical plant for the seed parent, and fertilizing with pollen from many desirable garden roses and rose species. There is little difficulty in growing the resulting hybrid seedlings for a season or two, but even with the most careful glasshouse treatment they decline and die before the blooming age is reached. We have propagated some of the most promising by cuttings, and have even budded them on the parent Cherokee but without success, all perishing without bloom, though canes six feet long have been produced. The only exceptions are two plants of Cherokee x Frau Karl Druschki, a white Hybrid Perpetual, that are now entering their third year with some promise of continued growth. A very striking common feature of the hundred or more Cherokee hybrids we have grown is the entire disappearance of the characteristics of the mother plant. In no instance were the hooked prickles and narrow glossy foliage of Cherokee reproduced. The general type even when pollen from the most diverse sorts was used, is dwarf and bushy, with slender straight thorns or spines and foliage of the character of the pollen parent. One exception was produced by pollen of Marshal Niel, the well-known climbing yellow rose of northern greenhouses. This hybrid had hooked spines and intermediate foliage. Several propagations of it were made and buds inserted in various stocks, some growing strongly for a season or two, but all died without producing a flower, though one of the best plants was sent to a careful California grower for trial.

THE SILVER MOON ROSE.—One marked success was gained, however, by pollinating Rosa Wichuraiana with Cherokee, resulting in the fine hardy garden rose, shown greatly reduced in size, in Fig. 368, page 783. There is little of Cherokee evident in plant or foliage, but the great semi-double blooms, nearly four inches across, strongly indicate the pollen parent. The buds are cream yellow in color, but the flowers open pure white, displaying at midday the bright yellow stamens. The petals are of much substance, lasting well when the blooms are cut. The foliage is large and shining, and the strong prickles straight instead of hooked. The plant looks more like the average Wichuraiana-multiflora cross than one would expect, but there can be no doubt of the infusion of Cherokee blood. It has proved hardy in seven years’ test without Winter protection; is a strong grower, making canes five to eight feet in a season, and appears absolutely healthy. The variety will be introduced to commerce in a season or two, by a prominent firm of rose dealers under the name of Silver Moon. It was awarded a medal at the last exhibition of the National Rose Society.

MR. HOCKRIDGE’S HYBRID-—Mr. Hockridge has obtained under the favoring skies of California an authentic blend of Cherokee with Gloire des Rosomanes, a tall-growing red Remontant, introduced as far back as 1825. He describes the bloom as small, yellowish white, and disappointing, but with the possibility of paving the way for something better. He wonders where the yellow comes from when pollen of a red rose is used on the white Cherokee. As yellow also predominates in the immature blooms of Silver Moon, which came from using Cherokee pollen on a white-flowered species, as well as in Rosa Fortuneana, the presumed hybrid with the white Banksian rose, it would appear quite dominant in the immediate offspring of Cherokee. The yellow coloring of the stamens is intense in the type, and may spread to the corolla in the hybrid seedlings.

ROSA GIGANTEA.—Another species of much interest, but heretofore of limited horticultural value, is Rosa gigantea of upper Burma in Asia. It is allied to the Tea rose, but forms an immense trailing or high climbing plant, producing sparingly when mature the largest wild roses known. They are single, white, rather flimsy in texture, and range from five to six inches in diameter. The species has occasionally bloomed in European greenhouses, but is so shy and needs so much space that it is not considered worth growing out of botanic gardens. There are plants in this country, but we have no account of their flowering. They would probably grow well in the Gulf region and southern California, as the species is known to be able to endure slight frosts. It has been established in the warmer portions of southern Europe, and is said to thrive especially well in Portugal. A hybrid has been raised by crossing Gigantea with Reine Marie Henriette, a favorite hardy climbing rose with bright cherry red blooms, in the garden of Baron de Soutelhino, Oporto, which was recently exhibited at the international show of new roses held by the city of Paris, and received high commendation as a worthy garden variety. The blooms are larger than those of Reine Marie Henriette, and of a lighter shade. A supposed botanical hybrid of Gigantea is Beauty of Glazenwood or Fortune's Double Yellow, a handsome kind with salmon-colored flowers, but almost impossible to cultivate in temperate climates.