Rosa banksiae R. Br. in Ait. f.

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Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles

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'Rosa banksiae' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online ( Accessed 2022-08-09.


Common Names

  • Banksian Rose


With an unbroken margin.
Lacking hairs smooth. glabrescent Becoming hairless.
globularSpherical or globe-shaped.
Lance-shaped; broadest in middle tapering to point.
midveinCentral and principal vein in a leaf.
Egg-shaped; broadest towards the stem.
Central axis of an inflorescence cone or pinnate leaf.
Inflorescence in which pedicels all arise from same point on peduncle. May be flat-topped (as in e.g. Umbelliferae) to spherical (as in e.g. Araliaceae). umbellate In form of umbel.


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Article from Bean's Trees and Shrubs Hardy in the British Isles

Recommended citation
'Rosa banksiae' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online ( Accessed 2022-08-09.

A climbing shrub up to 40 ft high, with slender, glabrous, unarmed shoots. Leaves with three or five leaflets, which are 1 to 212 in. long, one-third to half as wide, oblong-lanceolate, pointed, simply toothed, glabrous on both surfaces except that the midrib beneath, and rachis, are sometimes slightly downy. Stipules very narrow, soon deciduous. Flowers white or yellow, 114 in. across, numerous in an umbel, each flower on a stalk about 1 in. long. Sepals 38 in. long, ovate, entire. Fruits globose, about the size of a pea, with the sepals fallen away.

Native of China, where it has long been cultivated.

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

var. normalis. – A difference between this and the cultivated, typical state of the species is that the stems are often armed with hooked prickles.

R. cymosa. – What is probably this species has been introduced by Roy Lancaster by means of a plant collected in eastern Chekiang. It has been propagated and is growing vigorously at the R.H.S. Garden, Wisley, Surrey.

It would not be surprising, incidentally, if the name R. indica L. were to be revived for this species.

'Alba Plena' ('Banksiae')

Flowers white, violet-scented, double. This is the typical form of R. banksiae, from which Robert Brown described the species in the second edition of Aiton’s Hortus Kewensis. It had been introduced by the Kew collector William Kerr from Canton in 1807. Bot. Mag., t. 1954.


Flowers double, yellow, slightly fragrant. Introduced for the Horticultural Society by John Parks, who brought back several plants from China in 1824 (Bot. Reg., t. 1105).


Flowers single, yellow, fragrant. Of later introduction than the preceding. Bot. Mag., t. 7171.The Banksian rose is one of the most lovely of all, but unfortunately it is too fond of the sun to thrive in the cooler and rainier parts of the British Isles. The double yellow Banksian (‘Lutea’) is the hardiest and most floriferous, consequently the one most commonly seen in British gardens, though unfortunately the least fragrant. It, and the others, need the protection of a sunny wall. Annual pruning is unnecessary but the older stems should be cut clean out periodically after flowering is over. The flowers are not borne on laterals from the previous year’s growths, as in the common ramblers, but on the twigs produced by these laterals, so a stem will be two or three years old before it produces flowers. This should be borne in mind when pruning.

R cymosa Tratt.

R. indica L., in part
R. microcarpa Lindl., not Retz. or Bess.
R. sorbiflora Focke
R. bodinieri Lévl

An ally of R. banksiae widely distributed in central and southern China. It differs in its more prickly stems, much larger, compound inflorescences, resembling those of a Sorbus, and the longer sepals with lateral appendages. Wilson collected this species on several occasions, mostly in Hupeh, and probably sent seeds during his first expedition for the Arnold Arboretum, but it is not known to be in cultivation at present.R. cymosa was made known to Western science by James Cunningham, who sent a fruiting specimen from Chusan in 1701. This is portrayed in Petiver’s Gazophylacii Naturae (1704) with the phrase-name ‘Rosa Chusan glabra Juniperi fructu’. Fifty years later Linnaeus cited this name under his R. indica, but his description is of some other rose that cannot now be identified. For the R. indica of Lindley and other authors, see R. chinensis.

var. normalis Reg

This is the wild state of the species, with single, white, fragrant flowers. Of wide distribution in China, from Kansu and Shensi to Yunnan; first described from specimens collected by the Russian traveller Kirilov in Peking gardens. It was later found wild in Hupeh and Szechwan by Augustine Henry, and his interesting note on it will be found in Gard. Chron., Vol. 31 (1902), pp. 438-9.Curiously enough, this white, single form was already in cultivation in Britain when Kerr introduced the double, white-flowered type.’Four years ago I found a rose growing on the wall of Megginch Castle, Strathtay, Scotland, which seemed to be a very slender-growing form of R. Banksiae. Captain Drummond of Megginch told me that it was a rose that his ancestor, Robert Drummond, had brought with other plants from China … in 1796. This old rose had been repeatedly cut to the ground by severe winters, and had rarely, if ever, flowered. The impression, however, was that it was white and very small. Captain Drummond kindly gave me cuttings, which I took to Nice, and this year they flowered, proving themselves to be the typical single white Banksian rose so long sought for and hidden away in this nook of Scotland for more than a hundred years.’ (E. H. Woodall) Journ. R.H.S., Vol. 35 (1909-10), p. 218).