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A very robust shrub, up to 10 or 12 ft high, forming an impenetrable tangle of branches wider than it is high. Shoots 10 to 12 ft long are made in a year on young vigorous plants; formidably armed with pale spines, which are compressed, decurved, scattered irregularly on the shoots. Leaves 21⁄2 to 4 in. long, grey-green, composed of seven or nine leaflets, which are oval or obovate, 1⁄2 to 1 in. long, finely and simply toothed, perfectly glabrous on both surfaces except on the midrib, which, like the common stalk, is more or less downy. Flowers yellow in bud, opening white, 11⁄2 in., produced abundantly in July on branching corymbs 4 to 6 in. across; stalk slender, and, like the calyx-tube, glandular; styles united; sepals attenuated, downy. Fruit orange-red, egg-shaped, 1⁄2 in. long, 1⁄3 in. wide, with the sepals fallen away. Bot. Mag., t. 8158.
Native of W. China; discovered by the French missionary Soulié in W. Szechwan, and introduced by him to the Vilmorin collection at Les Barres about 1895, after he had been transferred to the Jesuit mission station at Tseku on the Mekong. A plant was sent to Kew by Maurice de Vilmorin in 1899, the year in which the seedlings first flowered. From the other cultivated Chinese Synstylae it is very distinct in its strongly armed stems, small, greyish leaflets, and broad stipules.
R. soulieana is one of the most robust of all roses, and well adapted to the wild garden, where it can have unlimited room and never be touched by the knife. In such a spot it is striking all the summer because of its luxuriant grey-green foliage, but especially in July when in flower, and in autumn when the fruits have coloured. It is hardy, though the long shoots sometimes die back in winter.
For ‘Kew Rambler’, a hybrid of this species, see p. 186.
This species was reintroduced by Roy Lancaster in 1981 from south-west of Kangding in western Szechwan (L.961). Two large bushes from this collection have flowered profusely in the University Botanic Garden, Cambridge (1986).