Is this Rosa californica?

I found this rose in the foothills(about 100’+) up from a creek this past weekend. It has the fragrance of a sweet floral potpourri (not spicy, not fruity, not wild rose)and was very robustly growing and blooming. Current growth was almost 3’ but the new growth looked like it would make 4-5’, perhaps because of the heavy late rains we had. The buds and sepals were somewhat long, narrow and smooth. It had both straight prickles and recurved downward heavier thorns (prickles) and minimal but present bristles. I do have a good but not typical photo of the thorns that I will try to post. Obviously very drought tolerant–it hasn’t rained significantly since March, and the soil is really, really dry.This is inland, so not much marine influence.

I’m not an expert on R.califorica, but it is a member of the cinnomamae section. This rose doesn’t look like a member of that group. The stigmas are too narrow and too tall. The stigmas of the roses in the cinnomamae section are low and usually broad. See the attached link. This looks like it could be from the synstylae section or possibly a hybrid.


Paul G.,

I’m pretty sure this is not a hybrid-miles from a house, and all of the younger(and older) bushes in the area looked pretty much the same-just some variation in prickles and bristles. It probably is just a variant of Rosa calif. now that I’ve looked at and read many of the articles regarding it, and knowing that there are quite a few variants in wide spread locations.

Like Paul, I’m a little surprised by the apparent shape of carpels. This image shows the consistent look of the local R. californica (within a 10 mile radius of my place in Sonoma County). Since R. californica is considered a hybrid swarm or complex, there’s probably a lot of undocumented variability. The Jepson Manual description notably lacks a description of its reproductive organs. Your plant could have grown in particularly challenging conditions.

Without more detailed shots, I can’t really offer more. Instead of a head-on shot of the bloom, a profile showing the relative height and shape of the center of the bloom might help, as well as shots of the foliage and especially the stipule.