Paper: Investigation of the origin of Champney's Pink Cluste

This research paper confirms the origin of Champney’s as being R. moschata and Old Blush and also that the rose named Napoleon is a sport of Champney’s.

One interesting aspect of this work is that the various cultivars tested showed some slight DNA differences that correlate with phenotypic differences among them. This infers something that I have suspected based on various accounts of the history of Champneys, namely that there was no single “Champney’s Pink Cluster” but rather that many different cultivars may have been distributed by Champney all originating as seedlings of the parental cross repeated many times.

This has a lot of interesting implications for hybriders who might be wanting to draw on these old gene pools for inspiration. I wonder, for instance, how many different cultivars could be assembled of Champneys, and even of Old Blush and R. moschata? Reports on the rediscovery of moschata by Graham Thomas in an English garden in the 1960’s (iirc) imply that there is only this one cultivar in commerce but in fact there are others. See

and listen to

Champney did not restrict himself to handing off seedlings of his Pink Cluster only to the the Noisette brothers. For instance, many were sent to the William Prince nursery in New York where they were offered nationally by catalogue. Through this avenue some even found their way to a neighbor of Thomas Jefferson, which is where the cultivar now offered by Pickering seems to have originated. See

An interesting aside is that the Prince family dabbled in rose hybridizing too, and are responsible for some hybrids of R. setigera including Baltimore Belle, a climber that seems to have been mistakenly attributed to Samuel Feast in this rose’s monograph at

Does anyone here use Champney’s, R. moschata or Old Blush in your breeding program? If so, do you have more than one cultivar of any of these?

Don, you stated above that ‘Napoleon’ was shown to be a sport of ‘Champneys’ Pink Cluster’. Actually, it was shown to be a sport of ‘Old Blush’. And while it may be true that Champneys used a number of seedlings, our research also shows that ‘Blush Noisette’ as grown and sold today, has almost exactly half of its DNA bands matching with what we grow and sell today as ‘Champneys’ Pink Cluster’, causing us to believe that “our” CPC was, indeed, the unique ancestor of all Noisettes that come to us through ‘Blush Noisette’.

This line of research was more thoroughly presented in the Proceedings of the 9th International Conference on Heritage Roses, and is available through the Heritage Rose Foundation website.

Don, Agreed that RAPD is not an exact thing; but by using 5 primers, we are reasonably confident of the result, and in the concept that we could not be dealing even with siblings, among the roses known and grown today as ‘Champneys’ Pink Cluster’ and ‘Blush Noisette’.

And yes, of all the “old-style” Noisettes we’ve ever tested, the gene pool is very narrow indeed, although none of the “found” Noisettes from the Carolinas matches CPC or Blush Noisette exactly – it appears to be a hybrid swarm descended from those roses, over numerous generations, as one might expect from “wild” bird-sown seedlings as well, perhaps, as human-assisted crosses.

We’re growing a population of open-pollinated Musk rose seedlings this year, and I’m planning to do some crosses with it as the seed parent this season. I think it’s a species with a lot of potential.

Hi, Don. Where did you find information about Prince breeding Baltimore Belle? I don’t interpret the Twinleaf article on the Princes’ as suggesting that Prince bred Baltimore Belle. Did you see that somewhere else? The earliest attributions of breeding I found are in 1844 and 1845, both citing Feast.

Here is the relevant text of the article you mentioned:

"According to L