Experience with Hansa?

I had four crosses (out of far too many) take on Hansa, and produce over a hundred seeds.
I also gathered OP Hips, in case all of my crosses were not germinating, so I had some seedlings to work with.
The odd thing is that I had half a dozen seeds germinate from my crosses, while I had four dozen germinate from the O.P. hip so far.
There were a few more seeds in the O.P. bag, but not that many more.

  1. Has anyone else experienced a variance in germinating Hansa seeds, depending on the crosses made?
  2. Also, have you found it (Hansa) to be particular with the pollen it accepted (although not as picky as Therese Bugnet has been)?

I must say I am happy that a few of the older seedlings seem to be fairly vigorous.

I have no experience with ‘Hansa’. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen it. But I do have a couple of articles that may interest you.
De Vries, Dubois: Repeated pollination in Sonia x Illona (1983)
De Vries, Dubois: Rose Pollination and Temperature (1987)

As the authors explain in the first paper, repeated pollination not only increases the average number of seeds per hip, it increases the average size of the seeds.

The second paper reports on the influence of heat on the success of a particular cross. Other species and cultivars in various crosses would probably favor different temperatures. A species that flowers in late winter is not likely to prefer the same temperature range as another species that climbs high into the trees of Borneo. If we pick a temperature that suits us, we will have most success with the species and cultivars that favor the same temperature range.

So, repeated pollination, especially at varying temperatures, may give more success.

None of our experimental Hansa crosses worked out this year, but it was a limited sample of 12 with 10 unique pollen parents.

Given the poor rate of success and low sample size it’s hard for us to establish whether it was the crosses or the technique.


In addition to its health, hardiness and perfume, ‘Hansa’ has another valuable quality.

Eugster and Märki-Fischer (1991)
“The richest source of almost pure peonin is the old shrub rose ‘Hansa’ (Schaum and Van Tol, 1905; Fig. 11). Its mauve-red flowers show what can be achieved by high levels of pure peonin!”

Peonin is normally a clear pink or red that is not altered by co-pigments … at least not in roses … like cyanin. As a result, it combines well with pelargonin. ‘Hansa’ mated to ‘Gloria Mundi’ or ‘Golden Salmon’ should give an orange version of the Grootendorst-type shrubs. If you like that sort of thing.


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I’ve never spotted a hip on my Hansa. I kinda wish I could use it - hardiness, rebloom, and the peonin thing seem like valuable traits. One idea is to have a potted one and try higher temps in a greenhouse. David Z’s reported that high temps can overcome self-sterility in polyantha roses; maybe it would work to set hips on a rugosa. Now that I think of it, I should also try growing some of my sterile or nearly-sterile triploid rugosa hybrids in pots in the greenhouse.

Karl: Thanks for the articles. I know very little about the various factors effecting color, so I will take my time and begin to digest this info and try to gather more on the subject. Interesting that Hansa could be valuable in this regard: I purchased "Rose de Rescht, which I have always wanted to grow, which actually turned out to be Hansa. Don’t regret the mistake as it has proved a priceless gem in our garden here.

Regarding temperature, that is interesting. I will have to pay attention with various cross: maybe a more detailed record of each cross, various times of day, temp, date etc. could prove valuable in planning future crosses. I can’t help but wonder if the Rugosas (being so cold tolerant) may have a much different temperature preference than the other roses I am using. Also, wondering if the temp. has the effect on the pollen or on the receptivity of the female. Hopefully these articles will help guide my thoughts on the matter. (I wish I could remember what roses grow in Borneo, but I wasn’t interest in roses as a boy.)

John: I am sorry to hear your crosses didn’t work out! I tried nine different crosses on Hansa (including mixed pollen), the ones that took were
James Gallway, Princess Alexandra of Kent, and Othello (hoping to retain the color but gain cup form). {On a sidenote: Mary Rose was the only pollen accepted by Therese Bugnet out of 7 crosses (inluding mixed pollen).}

Sadly, my crosses that germinated seem very slow and weak in growth compared to the O.P. ones. I have one I may keep to give it some time; whereas nearly half of the O.P. ones are vigorous.

Joe: I am sorry Hansa doesn’t seem to set seed for you. Here it is loaded with O.P. hips. I have not been very successful in crosses with it, as mentioned above, but maybe one of the O.P. ones will provide something that is a little more amenable to work with, but provides the genes from Hansa. I am hoping for the same thing from Therese Bugnet. I am not sure how far (generation wise) the genes will carry through before becoming too diluted, so perhaps figuring a way to get something directly from them would be a better pursuit.


It’s really odd to consider how Hansa is a prolific seed-setter for some and has no hips at all for others. What are the factors? Our climates shouldn’t be vastly different. I think there was someone on this forum from Finland or the like who mentioned several years ago that Hansa set hips. Again, not a vastly different climate. Hopefully not one of those cases where there are two different genotypes sold as Hansa.

David Zlesak claims that most rugosas are self-sterile. (Again, it might be that heat during pollination could overcome the self-incompatibility as he observed with polyanthas). It’s fun to consider the possibility that your OP Hansa seedlings might ALL be crosses with nearby roses.

I had written the following in an e-mail in 1999.
Hansa is a very interesting mother.
Many of her open pollinated seedlings have very little rugosa character.
This suggests that she is self sterile and supports the suggestion that she
is not a hybrid but a sport of R. rugosa since diploid species are normally
self sterile. Percy M. Wright of Wilkie, Saskatchewan wrote in The American
Rose Annual, volume 21, pages 41-42, (1936) the following:
“The female parent of my crosses was the Rugosa variety Hansa. This is
probably not a hybrid at all, as reported, but a pure strain of Rugosa,
related to Rugosa as the double-flowering strain of R. blanda, known as Mrs.
Mina Lindell, is related to Blanda. The ordinary Rugosa dies to within a few
inches of the ground in most winters, but Hansa is so much hardier that in
my plantation it has lost but a little of the greenest wood in ten years. It
has thirty-nine petals, and is that miracle, an everblooming hardy rose. The
color is a violet-red.”


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Joe - most of the roses around Hansa are ones I would have wanted to cross it with. The only other is Therese Bugnet, which may make and interesting cross in its own right. So it will be exciting to see what comes of them. Some of them seem to be very vigorous. Not sure how long I will have to wait for blooms on them. I’ll post pics if anything comes of them.

Henry - thanks for the info. It is an interesting thought to think that Hansa could be a sport rather than a cross. Also very interesting that it is actually hardier than Rugosa. Maybe I should be doing more work with this one. Not sure exactly what approach to take with it though.

The genuine Rosa rugosa Thunb. is a once-bloomer bearing solitary blooms (rarely paired). It has tiny leaflets, scarcely more than an inch long. It was formerly distributed as R. ferox, but fell out of favor when the so-called Japanese Rugosas came along with their clusters of flowers and nearly everblooming habit. The so-called Russian Rugosas followed, and were substantially hardier and less thirsty.

Both Japanese and Russian Rugosas were derived from the same lot of seeds collected in a Japanese garden. I think it is worth noting that one or more of the Russian Rugosas was locally (in Russia) known as R. cinnamomea.

I have a soft-spot in my heart for Percy Wright, but I have to acknowledge that he sometimes guessed wrong. In 1948 he wrote:

“In 1938 I began using pollen of > Rosa nitida > on various mother plants in an effort to secure new types of hardy roses. Among the mother plants used was Hansa, the well known Rugosa hybrid, which may possibly have General Jacqueminot as its other parent.”
Wright: Rosa Nitida as a Parent (1948)

The plot thickens… where would we be without mystery? Maybe it is part of Hansa’s charm, along with all the other qualities. Obviously as breeders we would love to know the background, but at least the genes are there regardless.

Thanks for all the input guys!

Even self-sterility is not always an absolute. Various environmental factors can over-ride self-sterility in some cases.

I got to thinking about temperature and its influence, but got such a list that I decided to make a bibliography rather than copy and paste the links.

And then I remembered another case I need to add.

One point that seems to be important is this: sometimes there is no “optimum” temperature. Instead, we may find that temperature fluctuations themselves are as necessary as high, low or average temperature. I have read of crosses that yielded seeds, but the seeds would not germinate. Embryo rescue was necessary. But when another cross was made using the same pollen parent, but at a lower temperature, viable seeds were produced that needed no artificial assistance. Then there was the strange case of some Digitalis hybrids:

Focke observed among the hybrids which grew spontaneously from a cross-fertilized capsule that he had neglected to harvest when ripe, a number of aberrant forms, the most remarkable of them resembling in all particulars a different species (> Digitalis tubiflorum> ). All artificially produced hybrids of these two species have been found to be completely sterile to the pollen of the parent species. The hybrids also occur in nature, in which case they are said to sometimes bear seed.

It kinda hurts one feelings when a carefully made cross results in sterile hybrids, but the same cross occurring in “the wild” gives seed-bearing hybrids.

This is a Hansa X Theresa Bugnet seedling cross.

Henry: What a beautiful flower! As a bush does it seem to present more character traits from mother or father? Did that seem normal in the various seedlings or was there great variability? I seemed to notice my T.B. seedlings splitting into one of two lines, but haven’t grown enough Hansa seedlings to know their tendencies, let alone this specific cross. Right now I have some seedlings that are Martin Frobisher x Therese Bugnet, so we will see what that one is like given time.


It is interesting to note that ‘General Jacqueminot’ and its kin have proven to be useful in breeding Hybrid Rugosas. Hamblin (1930) gave some examples:
Mme. Anthony Waterer (1898) Rugosa x Général Jacqueminot
Arnold (1914) Rugosa x Général Jacqueminot
Rose à Parfum de l’Hay (1901) (Summer Damask x Général Jacqueminot) x Rosa rugosa
Amélie Gravereaux (1903) from Eugene Fürst, a grandchild of the General through Baron de Bonstetten
Ruskin (1928) from Victor Hugo, a grandchild of the General through Charles Lefèbvre.

Prof Budd (1894) also used Gen. Jack.

So, I’ve been wondering whether the source of this compatibility might be traced to ‘Gloire des Rosomanes’.

Karl: I had just been going through Gen. Jac. offspring and had noticed several rugosa crosses. Any idea if any of those offspring ended up being viable for breeding or if they were all dead ends? Wondering if that is a useful cross to explore again, or a waste of time.

Also, were you wondering about ‘Gloire des Rosomanes’ because of Bourbon heritage? Is there more compatibility there?

‘Conrad Ferdinand Meyer’ has been used for breeding. It is descended from ‘Gen Jack’ by way of ‘Duc de Rohan’. David Austin used it, and found that about half of the offspring looked like Hybrid Rugosas, the other half showed no sign of the Rugosa ancestry. ‘Chaucer’ proved to be a useful parent, in this case.

'Charles Rennie Mackintosh‘ [(Chaucer x CFM) x Mary Rose]
‘Charlotte’ [(Chaucer x CFM) x Graham Thomas]

‘Gloire des Rosomanes’ is one of those mysteries of Rosedom: some people call it a Bourbon, apparently because it is too tall for a China. Other people have insisted that it is a China pure and simple. It’s not a Noisette, either. It grows tall, but blooms more freely when it is cut back every other year.

Anyway, GdR is a fascinating variety that contributed greatly to the HP class. And its’ offspring have contributed to the Hybrid Rugosa class.

I knew rugosa & noisette for Conrad Ferdinand Meyer; I did not know Hybrid Perpetual. I can sure see it looking at a picture of the bloom now, interesting.

I believe I have a Hansa, and I get hips on it, but perhaps I am mistaken on the rose I have.

excellent! It is such a great rose, hopefully it will share some of those attributes.
I have a few of the seedlings I selected to test, and I am still waiting for them to bloom.