Rosa helenae Rehd. & Wils.

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

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



  • R. moschata var. micrantha Crép.
  • R. floribunda Baker, not Stev.


(pl. apices) Tip. apical At the apex.
Immature shoot protected by scales that develops into leaves and/or flowers.
Unbranched inflorescence with lateral flowers the pedicels of which are of different lengths making the inflorescence appear flat-topped.
An elliptic solid.
Protruding; pushed out.
Lacking hairs smooth. glabrescent Becoming hairless.
Bearing glands.
Flower-bearing part of a plant; arrangement of flowers on the floral axis.
midveinCentral and principal vein in a leaf.
Egg-shaped; broadest towards the stem.
A much-branched inflorescence. paniculate Having the form of a panicle.
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.
(of a leaf) Unlobed or undivided.


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

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

A deciduous rambling shrub up to 20 ft high; young shoots armed with short hooked prickles, becoming purplish brown. Leaves 3 to 7 in. long; main-stalk slightly downy and armed with small hooked prickles. Leaflets mostly five to nine, commonly seven, ovate, ovate-oblong or occasionally elliptic or obovate, sharply pointed, finely simple-toothed, 34 to 212 in. long, 38 to 114 in. wide, glabrous and rich green above, greyish beneath and glabrous except for some down on the midrib and main veins. Flowers fragrant, white, about 112 in. wide, produced during June in many-flowered flattish corymbs 4 to 6 in. wide. Flower-buds roundish. Pedicels up to about 1 in. long, they and the receptacle densely glandular. Sepals awl-shaped, up to 12 in. long, glandular on the back, with a few lateral appendages. Styles exserted, united into a downy column. Fruits ellipsoid, egg-shaped or pear-shaped, about 12 in. long, orange-red or scarlet.

Native of China, where it is widespread in the mountains from Shensi southwards through E. Szechwan and Hupeh and probably extends into the former Indochina. It was collected by Wilson in 1900, and earlier by Henry and others, but described from specimens sent by Wilson to the Arnold Arboretum in 1907 and introduced by him at the same time (W. 431b from W. Hupeh and W.666 from E. Szechwan). According to Wilson it is very abundant in these regions, forming tangled masses often 20 ft high and as much through, and rambling over small trees in the margins of woods. It is a fine rose, producing great masses of flower and needs abundant space to show its full beauty. It is closely allied to the Himalayan R. brunonii and could be regarded as its main counterpart in China. It differs chiefly in the more glabrous leaflets, roundish flower-buds and more or less ellipsoid fruits. Also the inflorescence in R. brunonii tends to be more of a panicle than a corymb. The species is named after Helen, the wife of E. H. Wilson, who was killed in the accident in which he also lost his life on 15 October 1930.

Typically R. helenae is characterised by a roundish flower-bud, but there are plants in cultivation in which the buds are more tapered at the apex; in other respects they agree with R. helenae, but their provenance is unknown. Some of Forrest’s collections in Yunnan differ from the typical state of R. helenae in their rounder fruits, but agree better with that species than with any other so far named.

R. helenae is a parent of the climbing rose ‘Lykkefund’, raised in Denmark and put into commerce in 1930. See G. S. Thomas, Climbing Roses, p. 69.


Wilson’s seed-numbers 431c and 666a were R. rubus, so it is understandable that this species and R. helenae were at first confused in gardens, including Kew. The rose exhibited by Messrs Paul of Cheshunt in 1915, allegedly raised from W.666 and identified as R. floribunda by Rolfe was not R. floribunda Baker (i.e., R. helenae), but R. rubus.