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A thin, straggling bush, 2 or 3 ft high, with slender, wiry, downy stems furnished with hooked spines and slender prickles, spreading by means of underground suckers. Leaves glaucous, simple (consisting of one leaflet), stalkless, obovate or oval, 1⁄2 to 11⁄4 in. long, toothed towards the apex, covered with fine down. Flowers about 1 in. across, solitary at the end of the shoot on a slender, spiny stalk, the petals deep yellow with a crimson spot at the base; calyx-tube thickly covered with pale prickles 1⁄8 in. long. Sepals lanceolate, downy, more or less prickly. Fruits globose or oblate, very prickly, crowned by the persisting sepals. Bot. Mag., t. 7096.
Native of Iran, Afghanistan and of Russia (Central Asia and the steppe region of S.W. Siberia), often found on saline soils; introduced from Iran in about 1790. This remarkable rose is distinguished from all others by the undivided leaf, the absence of stipules, and the bicoloured petals recalling those of some halimiums. It was separated from Rosa as early as 1824 under the generic name Hulthemia, though it is open to doubt whether its differential characters are really weighty enough to justify so drastic a step, especially as this species hybridises fairly readily with other roses of the same chromosome number (diploid). The rank of subgenus given to it by Focke surely suffices to give recognition to its distinctness, as in the case of other aberrant roses (see R. stellata and R. roxburghii), and dispenses with the necessity for a third genus to accommodate the hybrids between R. persica and other roses.
With regard to the cultivation of R. persica, Lindley wrote: ‘Drought does not suit it, it does not thrive in wet, heat has no beneficial effect, cold no prejudicial influence, care does not improve it, neglect does not injure it.’ Lindley was inclined to exaggerate for the sake of effect, but it is a fact that this species has not survived in the open for more than a few years in our climate. Coming from arid regions with hot, dry summers, its failure with us is no doubt due to inadequate ripening of the wood and excessive winter wet.
A plant in a cool unshaded house at Kew succeeded for more than twenty years, planted near the glass in loam mixed with lime rubble. Out-of-doors it would be most likely to succeed in some sun-trap on a mound of loam and rubble, and covered with a glass light in winter. Of various modes of propagation tried with this rose, the only one that has succeeded is to sever the suckers from the main plant, and then allow them to remain undisturbed for several months, to form roots of their own before taking them from the soil. But fertile fruits are produced if two or more clones are grown together.
R. persica has always been a rare plant in gardens. It was re-introduced around 1968 by the late Alec Cocker, who shared plants and seeds with J. L. Harkness. The latter’s interesting account of R. persica and the hybrids he has raised from it will be found in The Rose Annual 1977, pp. 121-4.
Most Russian plants have glabrous stems and leaflets, and are separated from R. persica in the Flora of the Soviet Union as Hulthemia berberifolia. The typical downy form of R. persica also occurs in Russia near the borders with Iran and Afghanistan.
Hulthemosa hardii (Cels) Rowley