The Wild Rose

Image by Couleur from Pixabay

“To contemplate roses is to punctuate one’s days with poetry.” 

Wild Roses are also called Species roses. Roses native to the Northern hemisphere and considered to be the roses that all modern roses have been bred from. Many of them date back to ancient times or pre-date our civilisation. Wild roses grew in swamplands, grasslands and native habitats over millions of years. According to Peter Cox in his book ‘Species Roses’ there are estimated to be over 120 species of wild roses in the world with 56 varieties available in Australia having been introduced in the early colonial period.

Image by Markus Baumeler from Pixabay

Species roses are enjoying renewed popularity today, we love them for their delicate blooms that belie a tough, rugged nature. They appear to thrive on little help from us as gardeners so are easy to care for because let’s face it they are native wild roses. Blooming only once a year in late spring or early summer, then producing very colourful and varied rosehips, which contain the rose seeds. These roses have not been altered by breeders or growers and their seeds grow up to be just the same as their parents. Wild roses vary in height from ground covers to large upright shrubs and massive rambling climbers. The blooms are mostly single, or small in clusters with a huge fragrance in the colours soft yellow, white, pink and crimson.

Wild Roses are a celebration of the lightness and freshness of spring and early summer and their effect in a garden is as a result of the overall combination of flowers, foliage, stems and thorns rather than the intensity of a single gorgeous bloom.

Monty Don The Guardian 2006
Species Rosa -Brunonii Ross Roses

Wild roses have unrivalled drought and shade tolerance, disease and insect resistance. Although our modern roses have showy, abundant, repeat flowering blooms, it is the wild roses that have beautiful foliage, stems and thorns that are interesting. At the end of the season in Autumn bestow on us the stunning shapes, colours and sizes of the ripened rose hips. Wild roses are mainly shrubs and may be climbers and ramblers. Wild roses are multiplied by taking cuttings and from their own division and are the only roses that come true from seed.

Image by Susanne Jutzeler, suju-foto from Pixabay

Wild roses are fairest, and nature a better gardener than art.

According to the ABC Gardening Australia program The Mount Lofty Botanic Gardens, about 15 kilometres from Adelaide hosts one of Australia’s largest living plant conservation collections. It includes a selection of wild roses or Rosa Collection. It was established in the 1980s to safeguard the survival of species roses threatened in the wild.

There are far too many rosa species to list here and in researching I have found there is considerable confusion about how many Species roses there actually are due to all the subspecies. The genus rosa is sub divided into four sections namely-

Hulthemia  meaning “with single leaves”. Hesperrhodos  from Greek meaning Western Rose. Platyrhodon from meaning “flaky rose”  Rosa containing all the other roses is subdivided into eleven sections

Rosa and the eleven sub sections

  • Banksianae  The most common one we see everywhere in white & yellow is from China 
  • Bracteatae  Three roses two from China & one from India
  • Caninae  Pink & white roses from Asia North Africa & Europe
  • Carolinae White, pink, & bright pink all from North America
  • Chinensis  White, pink, yellow, red & mixed-color roses from China & Burma  
  • Gallicanae  Pink to crimson & striped roses from western Asia & Europe
  • Gymnocarpae  This group has a deciduous receptacle on the hip distinguished by a deciduous receptacle on the hip from East Asia
  • Laevigatae A single white species from China
  • Pimpinellifoliae  White, pink, bright yellow, mauve & striped roses from Asia & Europe
  • Rosa White, pink, lilac, mulberry & red roses from all areas but Africa
  • Synstylae  White, pink, & crimson roses from all areas

Rosa ‘glauca’ is probably the only rose grown for its foliage: Red canes have reddish purple leaves and are only lightly thorned. A hardy plant with red hips in Autumn that produces fragrant pink flowers with a white eye in late Spring.

Rosa ‘rugosa’ is a bright pink rose with white flowered form, the summer-long blooms are followed by large, bright orange hips. The stems are heavily spined. This is the parent of many shrub roses and is extremely hardy.

Rosa ‘wichuriana’, called the “memorial rose,” is a hardy climber or ground cover with white fragrant flowers later in the season followed by red hips.

Rosa ‘Mutabilis’ is a vigorous species rose that likes a sunny spot and has a mix of soft yellow and pink flowers that last for months so is one of the few that repeat all season.

A wild rose roofs the ruined shed. And that and summer well agree.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

These wild roses are available and more from Ross Roses Willunga

Rosa species evolved 40 million years ago at least because distinct leaf fossils have been found in Asia, Europe, and North America. No species or fossils have been found of an original plant in the Southern Hemisphere. The Asian species have given our modern roses the repeat bloom ability, yellow flowers, real red coloured blooms and the climbing style of growth

Unsplash Image John Tyson

Wild roses are suitable for a garden with lots of room because they will grow larger than other roses. Today wild roses have become more and more popular due to their low maintenance properties, beautiful delicate blooms, disease resistance and the ability to blend into perennial borders of our modern gardens just make sure you have the space for them to grow.

Top Quote by Anne Sophie Rondeau, The Grand Rose Family

Second Quote Louisa May Alcott

All Gallery images are from Ross Roses Willunga SA with the exception of Banksia rose images by Di Baker

Peter Cox Publisher: Heritage Roses in Australia Incorporated ISBN: 10:0-9946090-0-0

Header image Photo by cocoparisienne Pixabay and the image below David Klein Unsplash

All Content Di Baker 2019 All Rights reserved

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