Rosa moyesii Hemsl. & Wils.

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

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



  • R. holodonta Stapf, in part
  • R. fargesii Hort.
  • R. moyesii var. fargesii Rolfe
  • ? R. macrophylla var. rubrostaminea Vilm.
  • R. alpina (pendulina) var. macrophylla (Lindl.) Boulenger, in part, not R. macrophylla Lindl.


Sharply pointed.
(pl. apices) Tip. apical At the apex.
(in Casuarinaceae) Portion of branchlet between each whorl of leaves.
Made up or consisting of two or more similar parts (e.g. a compound leaf is a leaf with several leaflets).
Lacking hairs smooth. glabrescent Becoming hairless.
Bearing glands.
Grey-blue often from superficial layer of wax (bloom).
(botanical) Contained within another part or organ.
midveinCentral and principal vein in a leaf.
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 moyesii' from the website Trees and Shrubs Online ( Accessed 2022-08-09.

R. holodonta Stapf, in part; R. fargesii Hort.; R. moyesii var. fargesii Rolfe; ? R. macrophylla var. rubrostaminea Vilm.; R. alpina (pendulina) var. macrophylla (Lindl.) Boulenger, in part, not R. macrophylla Lindl.

A shrub 6 to 10 ft high, of sturdy habit; stems erect, armed with stout, pale, scattered, broad-based spines, very abundant on the barren shoots, the lower part of which is also abundantly furnished with fine needle-like prickles; flowering shoots much less prickly. Leaves 3 to 6 in. long, with from seven to thirteen leaflets, which are ovate to roundish oval, 34 to 112 in. long, simply or doubly toothed, glabrous except on the midrib beneath, which is downy and sometimes prickly, dark green above, pale or somewhat glaucous beneath; common stalk glandular and prickly. Flowers an intense blood-red, 2 to 212 in. across, mostly solitary or in pairs; stalk and receptacle glandular-bristly. Sepals 1 in. or more long, with expanded tips and a few glands outside, downy inside. Fruits red, flagon-shaped, 112 in. or more long, crowned by the erect, persisting sepals, glandular-hairy towards the base, or sometimes all over. Bot. Mag., t. 8338.

Native of W. Szechwan, China; first found by A. E. Pratt in 1893 growing near Kangting (Tatsien-lu); Wilson found it in the same area in 1903 and introduced it, sending seed again during his second expedition for the Arnold Arboretum in 1911. The name commemorates the Rev. J. Moyes, a missionary in W. China. R. moyesii was first exhibited in flower by Messrs Veitch in June 1908 and has since become one of the most admired and widely grown of rose species. It is interesting that the blood-red flowers that make it so distinct among wild roses are not a constant feature of the species in the wild, or even in the type-locality. Plants with pink flowers were raised by Veitch from the original Wilson seeds and predominate among garden seedlings, ‘Geranium’ (see below) being a fortunate exception. R. moyesii is a perfectly hardy shrub of rather gaunt habit, becoming almost a small tree in some gardens.


R. moyesii was described from two specimens, both from the vicinity of Tatsien-lu (Kangting) – Pratt 172 (collected 1893) and Wilson 3543 (collected 1903). Both had the deep red flowers characteristic of typical R. moyesii, but the Pratt specimen has broad-ovate, oblong-ovate or broad-elliptic leaflets, obtuse or at the most subacute at the apex and a serration of mostly compound or bicuspid teeth, while in the Wilson specimen the leaflets are longer, relatively narrower, acute, and simply toothed. In the article accompanying plate 9248 of the Botanical Magazine (1931) Stapf argued that the specimens represented two distinct species. For reasons explained in that article he adopted the Pratt specimen as the type of R. moyesii, and made the Wilson specimen the type of a new species – R. holodonta Stapf. However, in Plantae Wilsonianae (1915), Rehder and Wilson took the Wilson specimen to be the type of R. moyesii and made no mention of the Pratt specimen. It is assumed here that the two specimens represent states of the same species; but cultivated plants agree better with the Pratt specimen.
Although founded on the Wilson co-type of R. moyesii, Stapf’s R. holodonta also included R. moyesii f. rosea (q.v.) and specimens of R. sweginzowii (q.v.) with simply toothed leaflets.

From the Supplement (Vol. V)

This species was reintroduced by Roy Lancaster in 1981 from the area where Wilson had collected seeds early this century – near Kangding (Tatsien-lu) in western Szechwan. The plants have reached 6 ft (1986) and borne flowers, which at least in two gardens are deep pink, as were most of those from Wilson’s original sending.

f. rosea Rehd. & Wils.

R. holodonta Stapf, in part only

The type of this forma, collected by Wilson in the Mupin area of W. Szechwan (W. 1123) is doubtfully referable to R. moyesii and bears a strong resemblance to R. davidii var. elongata Rehd. & Wils., described from the same area. A plant raised at Kew from W. 1123 had numerous flowers in the inflorescence, which is not true of R. moyesii; Wilson’s 3544 (Veitch expedition), placed under R. moyesii f. rosea, is also scarcely any form of R. moyesii. It must at any rate be accepted that f. rosea is not an appellation that can be attached to any pink-flowered seedling of R. moyesii, and still less can Dr Stapf’s R. holodonta be used in this sense (see footnote). The plant figured in the Botanical Magazine, t. 9248 is R. sweginzowii (see below). A rose distributed commercially as R. holodonta is near to R. davidii var. elongata.


Plants cultivated by Messrs Veitch in their Coombe Wood nursery as “R. Fargesii” reached gardens, including Kew, through the winding-up sale of 1913-4, and were found to differ in no way from cultivated forms of R. moyesii except that the flowers were pink. However, they were given botanical status by Rolfe as R. moyesii var. fargesii. One plant of ‘Fargesii’ has been found to be tetraploid, which would make this variant more useful for breeding than the Wilson introduction, if it is really true that all the plants raised from the seeds he sent are hexaploid. ‘Fargesii’ received an Award of Merit in 1922 as a fruiting shrub.No explanation has been found for the name R. fargesii. Presumably Veitch obtained his stock from Vilmorin, who certainly received seeds of many Chinese plants from Père Farges, but R. moyesii does not occur in the area where he collected (N.E. Szechwan and the Tapashan of bordering Shensi). However, the rose named R. macrophylla var. rubrostaminea by Vilmorin, which is thought to be R. moyesii, was raised from seed said to have come from ‘Tibet’, which suggests a collection in the area of Tatsien-lu, capital of a semi-independent principality then usually regarded as part of Tibet. The sender of the seed was not stated by Vilmorin, but is likely to have been Père Soulié, who collected in that area 1890-4 (the seeds of rubrostaminea germinated with Vilmorin in 1894).In the current edition of Render’s Manual (Ed. 2) R. moyesii var. fargesii Rolfe is recognised and is described as having obtuse, broad-oval to suborbicular leaflets 1 to 2 cm. long, against ovate or elliptic to oblong-ovate and acute, 1 to 4 cm. long in typical R. moyesii. By that reckoning all cultivated forms of R. moyesii would be referable to var. fargesii. See further in footnote to R. moyesii.


Of more compact and bushy habit than normal, with lighter green foliage. Flowers clear geranium-red. Fruits relatively wider than is usual in R. moyesii, with a shorter neck. Raised in the R.H.S. Garden, Wisley, shortly before 1937; selected and named by Brian Mulligan, then Assistant to the Director. If there is room only for a single plant of R. moyesii this should be chosen. It received an Award of Merit in 1950 for its fruits when exhibited by A. T. Johnson, who did much to popularise it in his writings.

R sweginzowii Koehne

R. moyesii sens . Stapf, in part, not Hemsl. & Wils.
R. holodonta Stapf, in part
R. alpina (pendulina) var. macrophylla (Lindl.) Boulenger, in part, not R. macrophylla Lindl

This species comes very near to R. moyesii, but the branches are usually armed with flattened, triangular spines mixed with bristles, and even when they are unarmed, as is sometimes the case, the characteristic armature can be seen on the main stems. The foliage resembles that of R. moyesii, though the leaflets are on the average larger; in the type the leaflets are compoundly toothed, but they are simple in the Wilson specimens referred to R. sweginzowii in Plantae Wilsonianae. The flowers are solitary, or in twos or threes, sometimes in clusters of up to six or so, pink, 1{1/2} to 2 in. wide. The fruits are glossier than in R. moyesii, and often relatively broader, with a shorter neck. Bot. Mag., t. 9248, as R. holodonta.A native of China from N.W. Szechwan northwards through Kansu and Shansi, east to Chihli; described in 191o from a plant cultivated in an arboretum near Riga, which had probably been raised from Kansu seeds. It was introduced to Britain in 1903 by Wilson from N.W. Szechwan, near the Kansu border, but the plants raised by Veitch from his seeds appear to have been identified as a form of R. macrophylla. He reintroduced it from the same locality in 1910 (W. 4028); the plant portrayed in Bot. Mag., t. 9248, as R. holodonta, was from this sending. Seeds were also sent by Farrer from S. Kansu in 1913, from which a plant in the R.H.S. Garden (Award of Merit 1922) was raised. Another provenance is Hers 625, sent in 1923.R. sweginzowii is variable, but the best forms bear fine crops of fruit in August and September. The habit is elegant and the height up to 12 ft.R. sweginzowii ‘Macrocarpa’, raised in Germany, is possibly a hybrid.

R wardii Mulligan

R. sweginzowii var. inermis Marquand & Shaw

A shrub up to 6 ft high in the wild; branches reddish brown, with a sparse armature of slender, straight or slightly curved prickles, paired at the nodes. Leaflets five to nine, mostly {1/2} to {3/4} in. long, edged with fine simple or compound-glandular teeth, glabrous above, downy on the main veins beneath and slightly glandular there. Flowers solitary or up to three, on short laterals, with white roundish petals. Sepals caudate or merely acuminate at the apex. Stigmas woolly. Disk maroon.This species was discovered by Kingdon Ward in August 1924 in Kongbo, S.E. Tibet, and introduced by him; he found it in fruit on Lake Trasum (Pasum) and collected it in flower a few days later some twenty miles beyond the lake. It was described in 1940 from his herbarium specimens (Journ. R.H.S., Vol. 65, pp. 57-9). In this article, Mr Mulligan notes that the plant raised at Wisley from Kingdon Ward’s seeds (KW 6101) differed in certain minor respects from the wild material, the pedicels being glandular (against smooth and downy in the types), the sepals shorter and the flowers smaller (1{1/4} in. wide against 2 in. in the wild plants). For this reason he distinguished the Wisley plant as var. culta.R. wardii is uncommon in gardens and lacks vigour. Its most notable feature is the white flowers to which the coloured disk gives a maroon eye. Although once known as ‘the white Moyesii’ it seems to be nearer to R. macrophylla.

'Sealing Wax'

Another Wisley seedling (see ‘Geranium’), selected for its large, bright-red hips. Flowers pink.’Hillieri’, described on p. 185, is a seedling of R. moyesii; it is sometimes placed under R. × pruhoniciana Schneid., the name given to a supposed hybrid between R. moyesii and R. willmottiae; but ‘Hillieri’ is unlikely to be of that parentage. Other seedlings of R. moyesii are ‘Highdownensis’ (p. 185) and ‘Wintoniensis’ (not treated in the second section), a shrub to about 12 ft high with flowers of a vivid pink, borne singly or in twos; it is near to R. moyesii but shows some characters of R. setipoda. It was raised by Messrs Hillier and named in 1928.