Rosa rugosa Thunb.
Synonyms: R. ferox Lawrance
A shrub 4 to 6 ft high, and one of the sturdiest of roses. Stems stout, densely covered with prickles of unequal size, the largest 1⁄3 to 1⁄2 in. long, they, as well as the stem itself, downy. Leaves 3 to 7 in. long, with large downy stipules. Leaflets five to nine, oblong, 1 to 2 in. long, shallowly toothed except towards the base, downy beneath, the very conspicuous veins giving them the wrinkled appearance to which the specific name refers; common stalk downy and armed with hooked spines. Flowers very fragrant, 31⁄2 in. across, purplish rose, produced singly, or a few in a cluster from early summer onwards; petals overlapping. Receptacle glabrous, but the flower-stalk and sepals downy, the latter 1 to 11⁄4 in. long. Fruits rich bright red, tomato-shaped, 1 in. or more in diameter, crowned with the sepals.
Native of the Russian Far East, Korea, Japan and N. China, commonest in sandy soils near the sea; described in 1784 by Thunberg, who gives the Japanese name as ‘Ramanas’ – a probable slip of the pen or misprint for ‘Hamanas’, the actual name used for this rose in Japan being ‘Hama-nashi’ or shore-pear. R. rugosa was in cultivation in Britain at the end of the 18th century under the name R. ferox, though how and whence it arrived is uncertain (see further under var. ventenatiana). If ever common in gardens in the earlier 19th century, it must have become rare by 1870, for when introduced about that time, as R. regeliana, it was hailed as something new and soon became valued for its handsome foliage, long flowering period, fine fruits and ease of cultivation. It was even said to have stimulated a taste for single-flowered roses, then quite thrust aside by the productions of the commercial breeder.
R. rugosa is said to have been cultivated since a.d. 1100 in China, where the ladies of the Court long prepared a kind of potpourri from its petals mixed with camphor and musk. But the forms introduced in the last century came from Japan, where too R. rugosa has long been grown and many colour forms selected, varying from crimson to pink and white. No rose hybridises more readily with others, and if seed be sown from plants growing with or near other roses, little of the progeny comes true. The consequence was that a worthless lot of mongrels appeared, some of which were named, but ought never to have been allowed to survive their first flowering. But, for the breeder, R. rugosa has important qualities, notably its great hardiness, and disease-resistant foliage. Many deliberate crosses have been made between it and garden roses, some of which are described by Graham Thomas in his section starting on p. 169. Most of these hybrids are highly sterile, but a notable exception is R. kordesii, mentioned below.
cv. ‘Alba’. – Flowers blush in bud, opening pure white, single. Vigorous and free-fruiting. The origin of this form is uncertain; it may descend from the white-flowered seedling raised by the nurseryman Ware of Tottenham early in the 1870s.
var. ventenatiana C. A. Meyer R. rugosa var. kamtschatica (Vent.) Reg.; R. kamatchatica Vent. – This differs from typical R. rugosa in having the stipular (nodal) prickles distinct from the more scattered bristly ones, in the leaves being more obovate and rounded at the apex, and in the smaller fruits. It is a distinct race, confined to S. Kamchatka, and is considered by some authorities to be a natural hybrid between R. rugosa, which is found on the peninsula, and R. amblyotis, a close relative of R. majalis. It was described in 1800 from a plant cultivated by the French nurseryman Cels, and was probably introduced around 1770 though by what means is not known. Since R. rugosa itself also grows on Kamchatka it is possible that the first introduction of the species, known as R. ferox, came at the same time.
R. ‘Calocarpa’. – A handsome rose with branches less thick than in R. rugosa, clusters of bright red fragrant flowers borne over a long period, followed by globose, scarlet fruits 3⁄4 in. wide, crowned with the sepals. Raised by Bruant of Poitiers and sent out about 1891. A hybrid of R. rugosa crossed with “R. indica”, possibly some form of Crimson China. It was stated by the raiser to come true from seed, a statement of very doubtful validity (R. rugosa calocarpa André; R. × calocarpa Bak. in Willmott).
R. ‘Hollandica’. – A hybrid of R. rugosa, much used as a stock for garden roses, especially standards. It is a suckering shrub with mauvish pink, almost single flowers, of no value as an ornamental, though often seen in neglected gardens. It flowers from summer to autumn.
R. × iwara Sieb. ex Reg. R. yesoensis (Franch. & Sav.) Makino; R. iwara var. yesoensis Franch. & Sav. – A natural hybrid between R. rugosa and R. multiflora, occurring occasionally in the wild. Of spreading habit, intermediate between the parents. The introduced form (as R. yesoensis) had small white flowers and could be described as two beautiful species spoilt.
R. × jacksonii Baker in Willmott, Gen. Rosa, Vol. I, p. 63, t. (R. rugosa × R. wichuraiana) – This cross was made at the Arnold Arboretum by Jackson Dawson, towards the end of the 19th century. Here belong ‘Lady Duncan’, named by Dawson, and ‘Max Graf’, of independent origin (see further on p. 190 and also R. kordesii below).
R. × micrugosa Henkel R. vilmorinii Bean; R. wilsonii Hort., not Borrer (R. rugosa × R. roxburghii (microphylla)) – One of the best primary crosses, being intermediate in habit and foliage, and having large, single, pale pink flowers 4 or 5 in. across. The fruits are greenish and bristly. It was found as a self-sown seedling in the garden of the Strasbourg Botanical Institute and described by Henri de Vilmorin in Revue Horticole 1905, p. 144. From the original hybrid Dr Hurst raised R. × micrugosa ‘Alba’ with white, fragrant flowers borne over a long period. The growth is more erect, and the foliage lighter green.
R. × paulii Rehd. (R. rugosa × ? R. arvensis). – See ‘Paulii’, p. 194.
R. kordesii H. D. Wulff – This rose, raised by the famous German breeder Wilhelm Kordes, is an interesting example – one of many now known – of how what is in effect a new species can arise in cultivation as a result of hybridisation followed by a doubling of the number of chromosomes. The parent of R. kordesii is ‘Max Graf, a very vigorous and hardy hybrid between R. rugosa and, probably, R. wichuraiana, both diploid. Herr Kordes acquired a plant as soon as ‘Max Graf was put into commerce in 1919 and, seeing its potentialities as a parent, attempted to breed from it. But, like most hybrids of R. rugosa, it proved to be sterile both in crossing and when selfed. However, two fruits were eventually obtained, from which two seedlings were raised. One of these proved to be completely fertile and was found, on cytological examination, to be tetraploid. This was named R. Kordesii in 1951. Using R. kordesii as a parent, Herr Kordes raised a group of repeat-flowering climbers with glossy, disease-resistant foliage, of which several are described in the second section (W. Kordes, in The Rose Annual 1965, pp. 99-102).