Rosa carolina L.

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

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



  • R. humilis Marsh.
  • R. pensylvanica Wangenh.
  • R. virginiana Du Roi, not Mill.
  • R. parviflora Ehrh.
  • R. lyonii Pursh
  • R. carolina var. villosa (Best) Rehd.
  • R. humilis var. villosa Best


Fused with a different part by having grown together. (Cf. connate.)
Unbranched inflorescence with lateral flowers the pedicels of which are of different lengths making the inflorescence appear flat-topped.
Lacking hairs smooth. glabrescent Becoming hairless.
Smooth and shiny.
Egg-shaped; broadest towards the stem.
Enlarged end of a flower stalk that bears floral parts; (in some Podocarpaceae) fleshy structure bearing a seed formed by fusion of lowermost seed scales and peduncle.


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

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

A small, suckering shrub, rarely more than 3 ft high in the wild; stems from the stolons densely clad with prickly bristles; upper stems with straight, slender prickles, which are usually paired at the nodes, scattered but fairly numerous between the nodes. Leaflets five or, more commonly, seven, elliptic or narrowly ovate, 58 to 112 in. long, sharply toothed, the teeth rather spreading and averaging about twelve on each side, dull or slightly lustrous above, glabrous on both sides or softly downy beneath. Stipules narrow, the adnate halves of each pair more or less parallel and sometimes upfolded, forming a tube. Flowers in June or early July, solitary, or few in a corymb, 112 to 2 in. wide, light pink. Pedicels and receptacle usually clad with stalked glands. Fruits red, more or less globular, about 38 in. wide.

Native of N. America from Maine to Florida, west to the Prairie States and Texas, inhabiting mainly dry and open habitats; cultivated by James Sherard at Eltham, in 1732, but uncommon in gardens, where it has been confused with R. palustris.


Leaflets hairy beneath. Flowers white (R. virginiana var. alba Baker in Willmott; R. lyonii f. alba Rehd.). Discovered at Cherryfields, Maine, in 1867.


Flowers somewhat larger than average, borne as late as September. Received at Kew from William Paul’s nursery 1894 (R. carolina var. nuttalliana Hort.).A further difference between R. carolina and R. palustris is that the former is tetraploid and the latter diploid. Natural hybrids between them have been reported, and those studied by Mrs Erlanson were triploid and sterile, as might be expected. These hybrids had the habit of R. carolina but showed the influence of R. palustris in the more finely and more numerously toothed leaflets. Diploid and fertile plants apparently combining the characters of R. carolina and R. palustris are now thought to be the result of hybridisation between the latter and R. blanda.


Flowers double, the outer petals fading to white with age. Sepals with long, slender tips (R. parviflora var. plena Ehrh.). In the late 18th and early 19th centuries this seems to have been the commonest representative of the species in gardens, and the only one seen by Lindley, according to whom it ‘does not yield in beauty to the most splendid varieties of gallica’. It was a weak grower and, according to Thory in Redouté’s Les Roses, most gardeners lost it through weeding out the suckers that it needed to perpetuate itself. Probably for this reason it became extinct in Europe, but around 1955 it was rediscovered in the USA by Mr and Mrs Wilson Lynes, who sent plants to Graham Thomas (see his Shrub Roses of Today, p. 71 and fig. 2).The rose figured in Willmott’s The Genus Rosa as R. humilis var. grandiflora (Vol. 1, p. 207, t.) appears to be the same as one distributed by Smith of Newry towards the end of the last century as R. lucida grandiflora, with large flowers and obovate or broadly elliptic leaflets. This rose is the type of R. carolina var. grandiflora (Bak.) Rehd., said to occur wild in the USA. But, whatever the status of the wild plants, the type of this variety seems to be nearer to R. virginiana than to R. carolina.

R palustris Marsh.

R. carolina L. (1762) and of many later authors, not L. (1753)
R. virginiana Du Roi, not Herrm. nor Mill.
R. corymbosa Ehrh.
R. pensylvanica Michx., not Wangenh.
R. hudsoniana Thory

Taller than R. carolina, to about 6 ft. Stems with paired stout more or less curved prickles at the nodes, otherwise almost unarmed. A very marked difference between this species and R. carolina lies in the very fine, close-toothing of the leaflets, the average number of teeth on each side being twenty-six according to Mrs Erlanson, against an average of twelve in R. carolina and fourteen in R. virginiana. Stipules as in R. carolina, but more frequently inrolled into a tube. Flowers usually in corymbs, rarely solitary, with very numerous stamens, borne later than in R. carolina (July and August).R. palustris, as its name implies, is usually found in swampy places, but has much the same geographical distribution as R. carolina. Like that species it spreads vigorously by suckers and does not need a wet soil in gardens.