Is there a gene available in roses for .....

thick velvet petals? Say for example the deep reds such as Black Magic, Black Baccara, Mr Lincoln; also purples such as Intrigue. Just curious as to if and how this trait can be passed on to new offspring in roses?

Thanks to all.


To the best of my knowledge, petal thickness seems to be a polygenetic trait. But the velvety reds and purples have always intrigued me. I’ve taken petals of Veilchenblau, Belle de Crecy, Midnight Blue and others that have this trait and put them under the microscope to see what causes it. It seems that there is a topmost layer of cells on the petal that develops the dark, “velvety” pigment as the petals mature. Then once the petals are fully open and exposed to the sun, these cells appear to either die or just shrink, concentrating the pigment into dark dots (pretty much the same way a tan works), giving the purple or black (or more usually, dark grey) patina to the petals. In other nicely purple roses, such as Basye’s Purple, this top layer of cells seems to remain transparent and does not contract or die off. It then acts like a layer of lenses, giving an almost sparkling depth to the color that’s impossible to photograph – or stop staring at! Whether this top-cell function is one gene or many I can’t say, but I expect it’s many.

So yeah, the genes are out there, it’s just a matter of gathering them all together in one place. Too bad Basye’s Purple is such a bear to breed!

Hi Fara, Thanks for responding to me. I was hoping my question was not too off the mark but I really am captivated by the thick velvety textured petals and I was just curious to see if I could somehow incorporate it into some of my crosses this season. I do have a cross from Intrigue X Midas Touch which also has the thick velvet petals, but it did not pass on to the seedlings. Again thank you so much for the explanation.

jeannie, this is a belated response, but I just had two seedlings open from a Rt 66 OP batch. They are darker, velvetier than Black Baccara. they just opened (one yesterday, and the other is being a bit slow on the revealing) so I have no idea how they will do, etc. One of the seedlings is quite vigorous, the other so-so. There is another that may also be from that same cross, not as dark, but Stephen’s Big Purple beet root purple with a darker halo. The pollen parent just has to be Black Baccara, which I forcibly removed after the main bloom season, after its’ being a pathetic performer from the standpoint of producing consistant nice flowers. this had to be the work of insects, to be sure, because I did not want to encourage that aspect of a rose, and I really did not even think of it as a match with Rt.66 which has all the opposite attributes. Maybe the offspring will have the best of both worlds. It will be interesting to see the next few blooms of each, but Rt.66 X Black Baccara sure seems capable of passing that quality on to its’ progeny. Jackie