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A very large rambling shrub to about 30 ft high; shoots arching, glabrous, armed with hooked spines about 3⁄8 in. long. Leaves with five or seven leaflets, coppery when young; rachis and petiole glabrous, sparsely prickly and sometimes glandular. Leaflets elliptic or elliptic-lanceolate, 11⁄2 to 31⁄2 in. long, 3⁄4 to 2 in. wide, shallowly toothed, glabrous above, typically glabrous and slightly glandular beneath, but with some hairs on the midrib and main-veins in the Kansu form. Stipules slender, fringed with glands. Flowers fragrant, white from cream-coloured buds, about 1 in. wide, borne in late June or July in several corymbose panicles near the ends of the laterals, forming together terminal masses of blossom often 12 in. or even more wide. Pedicels slender, glandular, not downy, 1 to 11⁄2 in. long. Sepals with slender, slightly expanded tips, glandular and slightly downy on the back, with a few slender lateral appendages. Petals obovate, not much overlapping. Stamens very numerous, with golden-yellow anthers. Styles exserted, united into a slightly hairy column. Fruits broadly ellipsoid to globose, orange, becoming crimson scarlet. Bot. Mag., t. 8894.
Native of W. China; discovered by Wilson in N.W. Szechwan in 1908 and introduced by him from the type-locality near Wenchwan in that year and again in 1910. Plants from the second sending (W.4200) were flowering at the Sunningdale Nurseries and with Messrs Waterer of Bagshot by 1919. In Plantae Wilsonianae it is stated that R. filipes is confined to the area where Wilson first found it. But there is no doubt that the rose of which Farrer sent seed in 1914/5 under no. 291 is also R. filipes, though originally identified as R. rubus by Rolfe. Farrer (and his companion Purdom) first met this rose in southern Kansu, in a village near Siku that Farrer nicknamed ‘Barley Bee’ (Ban S’an). ‘It is a huge rampageous bush, making shoots of 12 feet in the season, dark purple and smooth, set with smooth lucent Banksioid foliage of deep leathern green and particularly strong-minded thorns, ferocious though sparse. Next year that shoot, all along its length, is bowed with a burden of blossom in superb enormous lax clusters, opening of a nankeen buff, passing to pure snow-white, and diffusing upon the intoxicated air an intense sweetness that ripples for a hundred yards around in the end of June.’ (Journ. R.H.S., Vol. 42 (1916), p. 106; see also Farrer, On the Eaves of the World’, Vol. II, p. 4).
Farrer’s Barley Bee rose flowered with E. A. Bowles at Myddelton House, Enfield, in 1920, and it is a spray from his plant that is portrayed in the Botanical Magazine. R. filipes is now represented in the trade mainly by the fine clone ‘Kiftsgate’. The original plant at Kiftsgate Court in Gloucestershire was acquired from E. A. Bunyard’s nursery in 1938, but nothing further is known of its origin. It is about 40 ft high and 60 by 30 ft in spread (Graham Thomas, Climbing Roses, p. 34). R. filipes is perhaps less tolerant of shade than its allies and grows slowly at first if planted under the branches of its intended host, but gains in vigour once its stems reach the sun.