Inheritance of 'runners' or suckers

Couple of questions…

  1. What patterns have people found regarding the inheritance of plants that develop runners/suckers?

  2. What tends to prevent it (when crossed with something that does)?

  3. Are there any miniatures that will produce runners/suckers?

That’s a great question Simon!! It seems like crosses with species that produce suckers with shrubs like Carefree Beauty have resulted in seedlings that do so too, but often to a lesser extent. I don’t think I can confidently say I have seen some sort of inheritance pattern. It seems liky Synstylae section species and hybrids I’ve used tend not to sucker and offspring as well (maybe layer though), but when I use Cinnamomeae (now called Rosa) section roses (rugosa, blanda, arkansana, etc.) and Pimpin. section roses (spinosissima) that is where the suckering is coming in (I wish I had more crosses with minis and them to compare, Roger Mitchell would be a good one to ask). Maybe with the minis having so much Synstylae section background in them maybe that supresses suckering? These are all wide generalizations. I would love to learn others’ experiences.


“What patterns have people found regarding the inheritance of plants that develop runners/suckers?”

  • There is definitely an influence inherited from certain species. The tendency to sucker can show up unexpectedly generations later even when those species genes are diluted.

“What tends to prevent it (when crossed with something that does)?”

  • It seems to me influence from certain species like foetida and gigantea, among others, seems to minimize it.

“Are there any miniatures that will produce runners/suckers?”

  • Yes, though I can’t think of too many examples off the top of my head. I’m sure we can come up with a list.

Very good topic!

That it is easily and definitively bred out we know considering gallica is an important component of modern roses and a very suckering species.

Even that suckering was deliberately bred out is questionable as I know no historical mention about this.

Rose nurserymen that favored grafting may have also selected for non suckering as another way to monopolise rose propagation as they did.

It is certainly not a fully dominant feature.

At diploid level Suckeringsp x nonSsp seedlings usually do not sucker and some instead exhibit very low wide branching that I beleive is an expression of lower dosage of gene(s) for suckering.

As I do not select for non suckering (too many other features to look after) I can only state that this is not a nuisance when backcrossing to nonS vars.

New questions then…

Should we be selecting against non-suckering? Or… a slightly different question… given that one of my goals is to develop own-root roses, do you think I should be selecting againt suckering?

It concerns me because I am interested in bracteata and Robert has advised me that bracteata will sucker tennaciously… Robert has also advised me that a number of the bracteata hybrids also have this issue on their own roots (i.e. ‘Mermaid’). The number of bracteata hybrids that I can use to start with, so I don’t have to re-invent the wheel, is ‘Many Happy Returns’, and ‘Mermaid’. I know of no other bracteata hybrids here. Mr Moore had success, eventually, by putting bracteata with ‘Guinea’, a HT. I’m not sure I want to go down this same path and put HT into it to kick things off. I have a number of ideas but I’d like to get a better idea of how this particular trait behaves first.

The other species I am interested in is rugosa, which also suckers wildly on it’s own roots. I have ‘Scabrosa’, ‘Anne Endt’, rugosa ‘alba’, and an unknown double red rugosa here that all sucker freely on their own roots. ‘Alba’ is a species variety so this makes sense, and ‘Scabrosa’ might also just be a species variant, so this also makes sense. ‘Anne Endt’ is a cross with foliolosa (does this sucker??? I don’t know much about this species), but the red unknown is rose-red (not just a wishful description of a dark rugosa pink) and quite double… so whatever it is I am assuming it is triploid and a rugosa hybrid with a modern rose and yet it suckers at will (it never sets OP hips). Which leads me to another question… is suckering in different species controlled by the same gene or set of genes (is it polygenic)? If I was to combine say bracteata and rugosa (which I don’t intend to do… just thinking out loud), could I be getting a double-dose of suckering genes at different loci that might compound the effect?

‘Dr Huey’ comes up from persistant roots every time I dig out a rose grafted onto it without removing all the roots. Is this a form of suckering or is this something different?

Sorry for being a pain with so many questions…

‘Mermaid’, regenerates quite easily from roots but does not necessarily sucker in the same way that many species roses do.

The Moore bractetas do not seem to have this tendency but then they are much further removed from bracteata.

It would be interesting to know if ‘Pink Surprise’, ‘White Surprise’ have this tendency. From what I have observed they don’t seem to.

I would be highly surprised if my Rosa canina x Royal Amethyst suckered. So far, it is an 8-10’ sucker, but it looks highly unlikely to ever sucker.

I made a typo. the first wordage of sucker used was meant to be the word climber.

Selecting against non-suckering? …Why?

Suckering is a nuisance for garden roses. It could be less for landscape roses. Eventually quite appropriate for roadside ones…

Suckers are subterraneous stems that grow underground from the main stem or from another sucker.

Foliolosa suckers while bracteata that as Robert states persistently regenerate from root pieces does not sucker. The later does not need it to be the most ferocious beast in a garden.

Much much better than barbed wire!

Actually bracteata potential is no more than scratched and going through Mermaid or MHR is very reductive IMO.

Reinvent the wheel is so much more funny! And another topic.

The Lens

Currently I grow two plants of R. bracteata. One is in a dense acidic clay that is very dry in drought times. The second is in a loam with great underground water (A left over river drainage.) These are from Texas where they were pest plants in alkalin loams.

Neither suckers here in zone 6b/7a. One is at least seven years old, the other is a year younger. I do see a propensity for the one in loam to tip root but not often. Both have a bit of winter damage but retain their evergreen-ness through most winters.

I had a third plant in a different acidic red clay and part day shade and it barely grew at all in three years.

In my growing conditions (especially in the acidic dense red clay) R. carolina and R. nitida go walkabout readily. R. spinosissima altaica suckers but in a mannerly fashion.

I see a slight tendency to spread with R. roxburghii and R. canina and R. eglanteria. R. gallica and Rosa Mundi are gently expanding their horizons and I’ve seen a similar expanse in R. glauca in a sandy clay in Ontario, but not in an alkalin sand in Nebraska.

I think part of the equation is not only genes but also opportunity.

Sorry… selecting against NON-suckering was a typo… I meant selecting against suckering.

OK… so these are two different things I am talking about then… root persistance in bracteata and suckering in rugosa… wow… what an invassive combination that would make LOL Imagine that with super fertile seeds

Anyway… I was going to keep bracteata in a pot but I have a paddock in which I can keep it that will be ‘pruned’ by sheep and cattle on one side and my tractor on the other. I might put it there and let it go. I just need to build a livestock barrier to keep animals out of the spot I want to put gigantea now too.

Ann… I too have a red acidc soil (more if a clay-loam than heavy clay… very friable and fertile). ‘Dr Huey’ hates it here unless I dump wood ash around it to lift the pH. Maybe bracteata will also hate it then.

Pierre, I don’t quite understand this statement:

Actually bracteata potential is no more than scratched and going through Mermaid or MHR is very reductive IMO.

He means that the bracteata genetics are highly unexplored, very diluted under current application and that more could be done to experience a fuller spectrum of potential within Rosa bracteata genetics.

Personally, the thought of Rosa bracteata in my mind is abrasive because I still cant get past how painful the thorns are, lol. Theyre the kind that refuse to let go =/

“the thought of Rosa bracteata in my mind is abrasive because I still cant get past how painful the thorns are”


This is one of the reasons I decided to use, ‘Star Dust’ It’s essentially smooth.


Bracteata is oustandingly performing in difficult environments and has many features that are rare among species and absent in modern roses. At least in the conditions I grow them.

With its strong roots it thrives flowering in heat and drough. Foliage is as tough as it is nice and desease resistant wet or dry. I do not know another species with as strong petals and few have flowers as long lasting.

These features I want to bred in shrubs and more classical modern roses. And yes Jadae it is my experience that species qualities are readily lost if diluted.

I did use Mermaid (pollen fertile only) and MHR (very fertile) as well as the few other bracteata derivatives I could gather. Progenies I bred from them were not so promising and none were selected.

Many F1 or F2 bracteata seedlings of mine proved much more attractive and productive IMO.

The thorns are terrible aren’t they… mine is just new and is still not much more than a bare-root mailorder rose and already I have scars up my right hand from it where it grabbed my and wouldn’t let go. I was thinking maybe a line of ‘biosecurity’ roses might be good :wink:… with such names as ‘What a Rippa’, ‘Samurai’, ‘Sabre’, ‘Barbed Wire’, and Razor Wire’ etc likely to appeal to the those with security in mind… get tangled in one of them and you aren’t getting out! Along those lines… I wonder if you planted a rose that takes no prisoners, and someone DID try and break into your premises and got stuck, injured, or worse in your rose, where would the owner stand legally??? I’m interested in cacti as well, and at a cactus garden I visited some years ago they said they had to pull out all their Echinocactus grusonii (knick-named ‘Mother Inlaw’s Cushion’ :wink: ), because if someone impaled themselves on the 1-2inch-long spines they’d be sued… anyway… I digress.

What do people think of an initial bractea x gigantea cross? I was thinking of putting bracteata initially onto a Tea like ‘Mons. Tillier’, or onto a hybrib Musk like ‘Trier’.

‘What a Rippa’, ‘Samurai’, ‘Sabre’, ‘Barbed Wire’, and Razor Wire’

I’ve always considered impalement as just being an occupational hazard but the reaction to bracteata has me wondering about it. Can you post some close-up photos to show what the concern is about?

Don, the thorns on bracteata remind me of blackberry thorns (and stems)… only larger… They have that same downward curved thorn that grabs at you and they seem to be arranged, often in pairs, right around the stem, but not overly densely. The older, larger, ones can lose some of the hook but still have just the right amount of curve to catch you and stick to you. The smaller ones on the newer growth are like some macabre velcro that sticks to skin.


Hi Simon,

I just dug some hybrid bracteata seedlings [bracteata X (rugosa x palustris)] to move them earlier this season and these had been in their spot for quite a few years (more than 5 probably closer to 10). They had gotten huge and wickedly thorny as you might imagine, but none had suckered much at all. I’ve just been noticing what Robert had mentioned however, that many of them have sent sprouts up from severed roots. I was kind of happy about that because it gives me another chance to keep them alive if the originals don’t survive the move. Which reminds me that I need to go down over the hill and check on them. Anyway, rugosa suckers pretty well here, palustris suckers occassionally and bracteata never did sucker as long as I had it (which wasn’t long because the colder winters finally killed it). So it would seem that suckering (which isn’t a negative in my book) should be pretty easy to diminish or breed out entirely.

Other hybrids I’ve grown from suckering X non, would support this too.

Another note that might be of interest is that F1 hybrid, rugosa X spinossima (both of which sucker fairly well here), is probably even more suckering than either of its parents.

Luckily this one has been completely sterile so far or I’m imagining it could have become a pest by now. In contrast those bracteata hybrids are at least partially fertile, setting occasional open-pollinated hips with a few seeds each.


Simon said,

“I wonder if you planted a rose that takes no prisoners, and someone DID try and break into your premises and got stuck, injured, or worse in your rose, where would the owner stand legally???”

Here in my area of California, legally you are covered. Many areas permit a fence height of no more than 6 feet but hedges and vines can be grown to any height.

Many use Cactus and Bougainvillea here to thwart unwanted visitors. It seems a property owner has no liability when it comes to trespassers and greenery.

Btw, the tendency to sucker can show up quite unexpectedly in seedlings. I now have two dilute bankisa derivatives that sucker.

For instance, this seedling suckers but looking at the lineage I can’t imagine why this would be so. There is no sign of suckering from either parent.


Most harmfull cacties are opuntias whose spines named glochids are carefully kept free by the nurserymen. Allmost unvisible, easily loosening from the plant, once stuck in ones skin they go still deeper.

The bracteata strong, hooked and very acute spines are easily bred out with the good cross. Bracteata x rugosa is not as it combines the numerous rugosa prickles with bracteata sharpness. Bracteata crossed with anything prickle free is much less spiny than are most rugosa hybrids. You can get normal spination and rarely even smooth ones.

I have never noticed unexpected suckering but it does not bother me much as it is so easy to breed out.