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A procumbent shrub, evergreen in mild districts, rising only a few inches above the ground, and making shoots 10 or 12 ft long in a season; barren shoots unbranched, quite glabrous, armed at irregular intervals with solitary curved prickles 1⁄4 in. long; flowering shoots branching and more slender. Leaves 2 to 4 in. long, consisting of five, seven or nine leaflets; rachis glabrous, armed beneath with small, hooked prickles. Leaflets oval, broadly ovate or almost orbicular, from 1⁄4 to 1 in. long, coarsely toothed, deep polished green on both surfaces, glabrous except for occasional down on the midrib beneath. Stipules broad, ciliately toothed or laciniate, the segments equal to, or shorter than, the entire part of each wing. Flowers nearly 2 in. across, pure white, produced from July into September in panicles of six to ten blossoms rising out of the dense carpet of foliage. Pedicels glabrous. Sepals about 3⁄8 in. long, downy, entire or with a few slender lateral appendages. Styles united into a hairy exserted column. Fruits red, globose, 3⁄8 in. wide; sepals deciduous. Bot. Mag., t. 7421 (as R. luciae).
Native of the coastal regions of Japan and of the Korean archipelago, with a close relative in Formosa; introduced to Kew from the USA in 1891, but probably cultivated earlier on the continent. It is part of R. luciae as Crépin conceived that species when he first described it in 1871, and it was at first known by that name in gardens. He separated it from R. luciae in 1886, naming it after the botanist Max Wichura of Breslau, who collected the type-specimens while attached to a Prussian diplomatic mission to the Far East.
Although somewhat eclipsed now by the large number of exquisite hybrids raised from it, it is well worth growing for its own sake. It flowers when nearly all other wild roses are past, and for making a low covering for a sunny bank few plants are better suited. In the USA it is known as the Memorial Rose, from its use in covering graves. Its flowers are very fragrant.
Rose breeders were quick to see the potentialities of R. wichuraiana, with its glossy, mildew-proof foliage and late flowering season and many of the most popular rambling roses of today were raised by crossing it with Teas, Hybrid Teas, Chinas and other garden roses. Most of these date from the first three decades of this century, but there is another group of more recent origin deriving from R. wichuraiana through R. kordesii (see under R. rugosa). Through its hybrids, R. wichuraiana has played a part – though compared to R. multiflora a minor one – in the breeding of the Dwarf and Hybrid Polyanthas.
† cv. ‘Variegata’. – Young leaves cream-coloured with pink tips, becoming green touched with cream.
(R. wichuraiana × R. rugosa )
emend . Crép