Rosa arvensis Huds.
Synonyms: R. sylvestris J. Herrm.
A deciduous trailing or climbing shrub, with long slender purplish branches no thicker than stout string, and armed with scattered, short, more or less curved prickles. Leaflets five or seven, varying in shape from orbicular to elliptic or narrowly to broadly ovate, 1⁄2 to 11⁄2 in. long, glabrous on both sides or, more commonly, downy beneath at least on the veins, the underside often glaucous, teeth usually simple and eglandular. Stipules narrow, with spreading auricles. Flowers white, with little or no fragrance, solitary, or up to eight in a corymb. Pedicels slender, 1⁄2 to 2 in. long, they and the ovoid to globose receptacle smooth or somewhat glandular. Sepals long-pointed, with a few slender appendages, usually glabrous and eglandular on the back. Styles exserted, united into a column, usually quite glabrous. Fruits 1⁄4 to 7⁄8 in. long, red, variable in shape, shedding the sepals when ripe.
Native of Europe and southern Anatolia; in the British Isles it is commonest in southern England, very rare in Scotland, widespread but local in Ireland. It is of interest as the only native member of the section Synstylae, with exserted styles united into a column, and is easily distinguished from other British roses by this character and by its slender shoots that often grow several yards in a season. The only other British species with joined styles is R. stylosa (q.v., p. 65), a sturdy bush with the dog rose habit.
As commonly found wild in Britain, R. arvensis is scarcely worthy of cultivation, though it has the ability to grow and flower in the shade of trees. There is, however, a more robust form found wild on the continent and occasionally in Britain, which has stouter, often pruinose stems, more numerous flowers in the inflorescence, and glossier leaflets. It is this form that is figured in Willmott, The Genus Rosa, p. 11, t.
R. ‘Capreolata’ Ayrshire Rose – A climber of extraordinary vigour, making shoots 30 ft long in a season. Leaves semi-persistent, with glossy leaflets green and glabrous beneath. Styles hairy. Fruits ovoid with a distinct neck, slightly glandular-bristly (R. capreolata D. Don ex Neil; R. arvensis var. ayrshirea Ser.; R. arvensis var. capreolata (Neil) Bean).
The original Ayrshire rose is now probably lost. Its history is given by Neil in Edinb. Phil. Journ., Vol. 2 (1820), pp. 102-7, and by Sabine in Trans. Hort. Soc., Vol. 4 (1822), pp. 456-67. In 1767 a consortium of Scottish gardeners including Dr John Hope, Regius Keeper of the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh, sent a collector to Canada. One member was the Earl of Loudon of Loudon Castle, and the original Ayrshire rose was raised from his share of the seeds. One of several seedlings, it was given by his gardener Douglas to a Mr Dalrymple of Orangefield, Ayrshire; planted against a wall by the roadside it soon attracted attention because of its great vigour and was put into commerce.
This, at any rate, is the story given to Neil and Sabine by Douglas, but Sabine adds a second version, according to which the Orangefield plant came from Germany by way of a garden in Yorkshire. If indeed the original parent grew in Canada, it must have been taken there by a settler, and this is not unlikely, considering that several European species are actually naturalised in N. America.
Although usually considered to be a cultivated variety of R. arvensis, there is a distinct possibility that the Ayrshire rose was a hybrid between that species and the related R. sempervirens. This is suggested not only by its botanical characters, but also by the fact that the group of Ayrshire ramblers raised from it by D. Martin of Dundee were all much alike yet presumably different from each other in some respects, since some fourteen were named. A pure species is unlikely to have given so much variation.
A few of the Ayrshire ramblers are still grown, though the only one of note is ‘Splendens’ (p. 201).
R. ‘Ruga’ – A presumed hybrid between R. arvensis and some form of R. chinensis, sent to the Horticultural Society from Italy before 1830 (R. ruga Lindl., Bot. Reg., t. 1389).
R. × polliniana (R. arvensis × R. gallica) – See page 128.