Ethical dilemma...

I have an ethical dilemma to deal with…

A while back Viru sent me clinophylla seeds and I’ve had excellent success. There are currently 76 seedlings sitting outside and more are still coming up now the weather has cooled down a bit. I am keen to send some of these seedlings out to other interested people who want to preserve the species here in Australia and use it in hybridising in the spring.

Here’s the catch. Clinophylla’s weed potential has been investigated by AQIS and it has been subsequently cleared for importation into Australia as seed for sowing. Apparently this means they consider the weed potential to be low. I’m afraid I don’t agree judging by how easily the seeds came up with no stratification at all in a foam box sitting outside with no help other than a layer of perlite, moisture, and screen to keep the cats from using it as a litter tray! It is sitting in full sun for most the day. It grows in tropical humid environments and I would imagine that Australia would be very much to its liking. It produces large numbers of hips that would be attractive to birds and possums that would aid its dispersal and once it leaves here I can’t control who grows it and how they do it and in a warm climate it grows huge FAST. According to HMF it flowers continuoulsy which means that keeping track of all the hips would be difficult; it’s not like a once flowering rose that can be hacked back once it’s finished flowering to remove all the hips. I don’t know if it suckers. I have already sent seed to a few people who are interested in using it in hybridising but feel they are responsible and intelligent enough to have worked out these risks already. I have a lot of seedlings and would like to offer them to others but am worried that in doing so it could be the catalyst of a major new weed infestation in Australia… especially in the tropical north. We already have a serioius weed in the form of Sweet Briar. I don’t think it is a major risk down here in Tasmania as I our winters will cut it back each year and seedlings will have a hard time unless protected but mainland Australia is a different thing altogether. I feel like telling others they should grow it just long enough to get something useful from it and then destroy the parent plants to reduce the possible impact… on the other hand I don’t want us to lose the ability to go back to it when/if we want to. The alternative is to just select a handful of the best seedlings to grow here and then cull the rest. This will be hard because so far the seedlings seem fairly uniform in terms of vigour and I really think this rose has a lot to offer ALL hybridisers here in Australia. Hmmmm… maybe I’m being over cautious. Not sure what to do…

I don’t think you’re being overly cautious. There have been some real biological night mares wrought in the Southern hemisphere.

I’d keep a handful for experimentation and cull the rest.

Clinophylla is easy to propagate vegetatively regardless.

We’re having some real problems in this country too. Some of these non-endemics cost huge amounts of money to control and they will never go away entirely. Never is a long long time.

  1. It would be helpful to know what data was gathered by AQIS to determine its “weed potential”. Perhaps there are factors here you are not seeing? Perhaps rodents were observed to eat most hips/seeds before they could result in offspring? Who knows what behaviors were observed. I doubt the decision to assess it as low in weed potential was arbitrary. Its worth questioning, certainly, but the decision must have been based on some meaningful data.

  2. Distribute this only to persons whom you trust will grow it under manageable conditions and who will promise to monitor its behavior as regards spread into the wild. If a recipient makes the effort to watch out for seedlings of it popping up willy-nilly in the vicinity of the parent plant, this will help provide more data to either support or contradict AQIS’s assessment. In parts of the US, R. multiflora has been declared a noxious weed. In Western Oregon, where the seasons are mild and very forgiving, you’d think R. multiflora would pose a serious threat as an escaped weed. And yet, it barely ever appears spontaneously in the environment from seed. (Seed, which I might add, is produced copiously, and often eaten by birds through the Winter. Birds ought to be a vector for its spread and yet it just isn’t often seen growing wild out here)

Has R. bracteata become a serious weed in Australia? I would think it has a far greater potential to do so, R. clinophylla much less so. (I find R. clinophylla to be a far more restrained plant than its cousin)

Simon, any chance you can dig up more data about the species’ weed potential assessment?


Distribute plants only to interested botanical gardens and to experienced collectors. In my opinion, seedlings are highly desirable for root growth and longevity. No one but another botanic garden will ever get their hands on the seed from specimens in a botanic garden, if my experience is any indicator.

In the drier parts of Oz, I wonder if it is much danger. Annual drought is not in its gene pool unless there is seasonal flooding during the growing season. Here, at latitude 38.44N, our annual flooding is in the winter, not the growing season. Clinophylla neither suckers wildly nor tip roots canes that are lying in the mulch. If the rain falls in summer everywhere in Oz, then your concerns are probably warranted. Species roses did evolve and adapt to a particular ecology. I read yesterday that Rosa bracteata was introduced to Japan from the northern part of the Island of Luzon in the Philippines. Given its native tropical habitat, no wonder Bracteata loves the swamps of the SE USA where it rains during the summer hurricane season.

The hips on my plant produce only one seed each. Not one has germinated in nature though I routinely drop Clinophylla seed in the mulch. Unlike Paul’s experience (500 to 600 miles north of me), every multiflora seed seed germinates with ease and without summer water (timing? love of the acid soils?). We have annual drought for 6-7 months every year. If Clinophylla germinates with ease in the heat, then here, it is germinating in drought. Nothing but natives and very few Mediterranean plants will live here without summer water.

With regard to interested persons…I agree you should use extreme caution. Don’t give a single plant to someone you don’t know a good deal about. Sudden enthusiasm for roses is not always accompanied by even the slightest common sense, my own experience being the foremost example. An experienced collector will know the signs of an invasive plant when they see it. No one with a brain wants an uncontrolled, seedling-spewing, viciously thorny, tip-rooting nightmare (bye bye Rosa laevigata and Silver Moon).

When in doubt…

don’t do it.

Assuming that there is a problem… They’ll put your name in the history books. Is that what you want?

The problem with being too generalabout the climate is that it’s so variable… as it is everywhere I guess. Down here in Tasmania we have winter rainfall and very dry summmers. I get about 900mm of rainfall per annum but 2 hours to the west and they get 3000mm/year and 2 hrs to the east and they are in a rain shadow; Hobart is the driest captial city in the country because of it. Tropical regions that experience monsoonal rain would make for very favourable climate, I would expect, for clinophylla. Sydney can be very wet at times and has high humidity. The drier regions have much lower humidity that would be an effective barrier against its successful establishment I would imagine. Tasmania’s cold will check it pretty quickly as it will have to deal with quite deep freezes, snow and a long wet winter. I have found clinophylla seeds do not germinate well at ambient temperatures over 25

You obviously won’t mention you already have R. clinophylla when you contact the powers that be.

Why not? It’s been passed by AQIS already, I went through them first to get the seed here (so they knew I brought it in anyway), and it is already growing in the Adelaide Botanical Gardens; also from Viru’s seed. I contacted them before Viru offered to send me some and was told they were currently in the process of properly accessioning, classifying, and describing it botanically for their collections records and would not be releasing any propagation any time soon. So, checking the list and finding it there I decided to bring my own in.

I emailed AQIS on Saturday and was actually expecting to hear back from them today (they are usually pretty quick to get back to me) but have not heard anything as yet. Will post the advice when I know more.

Ah, didn’t know.


As a recipient of this material on mainland Australia, I have been eagerly waiting to hear what advice you have received from AQIS on this matter?!

"Dear Mr Voorwinde,

Thankyou for your email regarding the weediness assessment of Rosa clinophylla. Barbara has moved from the position of New Plant Assessment coordinator and has asked me to provide you with some information regarding your query.

Rosa clinophylla has not been assessed under the current AQIS/Biosecurity Australia weediness assessment program as it has been entering the country for a number of years, prior to the introduction of this system. A number of years ago AQIS operated on a “prohibited species list” where any plant not listed was allowed entry into the country, over the years due to obvious problems this was changed to a permitted species list (first at a genus, and now at a species level).

Rosa clinophylla was previously imported into Australia before this system was implemented under the old legislative requirements. As this species is, or was present and growing in Australia it was permitted entry at the time of the last update to AQIS policy. Under AQIS legislation we are not able to prohibit the entry of a species of plant already growing in Australia unless it is a declared weed under official control in a state or territory (this means that the state/territory government has instigated an eradication program).

I hope this answers your query, if you have further questions please feel free to contact me.


Michael Peattie

Technical Officer

Plant Quarantine

Plant Quarantine and Export Operations

Plant Division

ph +612 6272 5799

fx +612 6272 3745

GPO Box 858 Canberra ACT 2601


As it turns out, I received an email request for Clinophylla material from an RHA contributor before this thread had even started, and after thinking about it at the time, I finally advised that member it would be more polite to approach you first, about the matter…I never got a follow-up answer on whether he did or did not proceed that way. Then you started this thread…it is all strange…

To summarise…my position on this matter remains unchanged. I am keeping these plants (clinophylla, clinophylla x bracteata) primarily as a back up for you in case climate kills yours off, which I imagine is probably unlikely, but one never knows. This excludes distribution to others, which can be taken up by you so easily, rather than me.

Oh…and thanks for posting the email reply AQIS sent you, Simon. It is good to have read it and know about its content.


BTW, they have been powering on like there was no tomorrow since about 6 weeks ago, when temperatures cooled down…the summer heat definitley inhibited their growth as newly sprouted seedlings at that time of the year.

I am really enjoying wathching them develop and transform. I can now see downy stems developing on some of them… They have the appearance of things that are not going to go dormant at any time of the year in my climate Simon, but we shall see.

This has been a fun ride.

Please pardon this distraction to the topic of this thread…

This is a message to the gent that emailed me about wanting some Clinophylla (I dont have your details to email you now LOL)…if you are reading this, thanks for contacting me, I hope you did ask Simon about this, and please feel free to email me any time you would like to chat. It was a fun conversation that we had started! :0)