A vigorous shrub with spreading and arching branches attaining a width of about 10 ft and a height of 5 ft; stems armed with sparse, straight or slightly curved prickles mixed with minute straight prickles and stalked glands. Leaflets three or five, of firm texture, ovate or oblong-ovate, acute or acuminate, up to 2 in. long, edged with sharp mostly simple teeth, dull rich green above, glabrous on both surfaces but with glands and minute prickles on the midrib beneath; rachis prickly and glandular but almost devoid of hairs. Stipules parallel-sided, with ascending free tips, gland-fringed. Flowers single, pink in the bud, opening light pink, fading to white, about 3 in. wide, sweetly scented, borne in cymose clusters of three or five at the tips of the shoots and in the upper leaf-axils. Pedicels glandular. Receptacle broadly ellipsoid to globular, slightly glandular in the lower part. Sepals with numerous lateral appendages but not much prolonged at the apex, hairy at the edge and inside, slightly glandular on the outside. Stamens numerous and conspicuous. Disk mounded; styles slightly exserted. Fruits red, with persistent sepals, ripening late. Willmott, Genus Rosa, Vol. II, p. 403, t.; New Fl. & SyIv., Vol. 12 (1940), fig. xlvii.
‘Macrantha’ shows the influence of R. gallica and could be a seedling of some garden hybrid with that species in its make-up. Canon Ellacombe was growing it in his garden at the Bitton Vicarage by 1888, and thirteen years later it was figured in Revue Horticole (1901, p. 549) with a description and discussion by Mottet, on which the account in Willmott’s The Genus Rosa is largely based. Mottet assumed, like most later authors, that this rose was R. macrantha Desportes (for which see below), though in fact it is very different. He tells us nothing about the provenance of the plant he describes, but the plant listed as R. macrantha in the catalogue of the Roseraie de l’Haÿ for 1902 came from Messrs Paul of Cheshunt.
R. ‘Macrantha’ (of gardens) is one of the most beautiful of single roses. Being of lax habit it needs support if to be grown upright, but makes a useful ground-cover, especially on banks.
‘Macrantha Daisy Hill’ is similar, but the flowers have a few extra petals, and open better in wet weather than ‘Macrantha’. It was raised by Smith of Newry, Co. Down. This rose in turn was used by Kordes to produce some fine hybrids such as ‘Raubritter’, for which see p. 197.
R macrantha Desportes
R. canina var. grandiflora Thory in Redouté, Les Roses, Vol. III, p. 75, t.
R. canina fulgens Lemeuniet ex Thory
R. macrantha var. lemeunieri Franch
This rose, at least according to the received version, was found by the French rosarian Lemeunier growing in a hedge near La Flèche in the department of Sarthe. He sent a plant (probably a propagation) to the Luxembourg garden, where it flowered in 1822. It was portrayed by Redouté in the same year under the name R. canina
Thory, and given specific rank by Desportes in 1838 (Fl. Sarthe
, p. 77). It has been a source of puzzlement that Desportes’ own description, although agreeing with Thory’s, was based partly on a specimen identified as ‘Avessé, Martigné, (Goupil)’. The explanation appears to be that this specimen came from the garden of Lemeunier’s friend and fellow rosarian Goupil, of the Château de Martigné, Avessé, and was one of the former’s propagations from the original plant (Gentil, Roses Indig. Sarthe
(1897), pp. 66-75). In this work Gentil voices the suspicion that the La Flèche plant was not in fact spontaneous but actually raised by Lemeunier himself, and accuses him and Desportes of inflating the flora of Sarthe with garden plants. Lemeunier is known to have raised roses from seed, one of his productions being the rose portrayed by Redouté as R. muscosa anemoneflora
(Vol. III, p. 97, t.) In the Kew Herbarium there is a specimen of R. canina grandiflora
Thory collected in the Luxembourg garden in 1829. From this, and from the original description and portrait, it is plain that this rose and the ‘Macrantha’ of gardens are not the same. The true R. macrantha
of Desportes shows no obvious influence of R. gallica
, having strong, uniform, hooked prickles. The leaves have the rachis hairy beneath; leaflets five or seven with whitish undersides; sepals with long expanded tips; and flowers of a vivid rose. The buds, according to Thory, were covered before expansion with a glaucous bloom, which can also be seen on the herbarium specimen.Subsequently, Desportes himself found a rose near La Flèche which he identified as R. macrantha
and still another, also referred to R. macrantha
, was found near the neighbouring town of Angers and transported to the Botanic Garden there. Specimens from these roses were distributed to various herbaria as R. macrantha
and are probably responsible for the belief that R. macrantha
is a hybrid between R. gallica
and R. canina
; since, unlike the true R. macrantha
, they showed the influence of both species in their armature. It is tempting to suppose that the ‘Macrantha’ of gardens descends from the Angers plant, which might have been propagated and distributed by one of the many local nurseries. But Boreau, the Director of the garden, gives a description of the Angers plant in his Flore du Centre de la France
, ed. 3 (1857), Vol. II, p. 227, and further details are provided by Crépin in his Primitiae
(Bull. Soc. Bot. Belg
., Vol. 8 (1869), p. 285). From these it is evident that the ‘Macrantha’ of gardens is an altogether different plant, whose origin remains obscure.