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A bush up to 8 ft in cultivation, of rather stiff habit, usually under 6 ft high in the wild, where it sometimes spreads by suckers and forms extensive stands; prickles scattered, slender, straight or slightly curved. Leaves 4 to 7 in. long; rachis glandular and downy. Leaflets five, seven or nine, 11⁄4 to 21⁄2 in. long, 3⁄4 to 11⁄2 in. wide, oval to oblong-ovate, bluish green above, hairy on both sides and often very densely furnished beneath with resin-scented glands, edged with compound-glandular teeth. Flowers solitary or in clusters of three, rarely more numerous, deep rosy pink, 11⁄2 to 21⁄2 in. across. Pedicels short, about as long as the receptacle, which, like the pedicels, is densely covered with glandular bristles. Sepals fleshy at the base, glandular on the back, long-tailed, not constricted at the base, with a few lateral appendages. Stylar aperture wide. Fruits dark red, more or less bristly, globose to pear-shaped, 1 to 11⁄2 in. long, surmounted by the erect sepals. Bot. Mag., t. 7241.
Native of central and southern Europe, Asia Minor and the Caucasus; long cultivated in the British Isles and occasionally escaping or occurring as a relic of former cultivation. It is a remarkable rose, and, when well grown, one of the most striking, especially in the fruits, which are dark red and very large – whence the old name ‘the apple-bearing rose’ (pomifera). The fruits were at one time used for making preserves and it was even specially planted to supply them for that purpose.
R. villosa L., in the first edition of Species Plantarum (1753) is founded on Haller’s ‘Rosa foliis utrinque villosis, fructu spinoso’ (Enum. Meth. Stirp. Helv. (1742), p. 350). As a synonym Linnaeus gives ‘Rosa sylvestris pomifera major’, taken from C. Bauhin’s Pinax (1623). The name R. pomifera J. Herrm. (Dissertatio (1762), p. 16) is superfluous and illegitimate, since he cites the Species Plantarum and Haller’s phrase-name, but ignores Linnaeus’ use of the epithet villosa, for which he substitutes pomifera. In his later works Linnaeus confused R. villosa with R. tomentosa and R. mollis, and for that reason some botanists have preferred the name R. pomifera J. Herrm., despite its illegitimacy.
R. villosa of some authors
R. villosa var. mollis (Sm.) Crép.
R. villosa subsp. mollis (Sm.) Keller & Gams