Paper: The domestication process of the Modern Roses

The domestication process of the Modern Rose: genetic structure and allelic composition of the rose complex

M. Martin, F. Piola,D. Chessel,M. Jay, P. Heizmann

Theor Appl Genet (2001) 102:398-404

Abstract: "Genetic variability among 100 old cultivated rose varieties from 13 horticultural groups was estimated…allowing differentiation of the quasi-totality of the 100 cultivars.

"A dendrogram was constructed displaying the relative genetic similarities between cultivars…It shows the relationships between the Chinese and European founder roses, hybrid groups of the first (Bourbons, Noisettes, Portlands) and second (Hybrid Perpetuals and Teas) generations, and the most modern Hybrid Teas, produced during the history of domestication.

“[The dendrogram] demonstrates the occurrence of a continuous gradient of the European/Chinese allele ratio, and a considerable reduction of genetic variability superimposed with the progress of domestication.”

Basically these folks analyzed the genes of an assortment of mostly Old Garden Roses (OGR’s) from l

Fascinating, Don.

You state: “There is clearly an untested ancestor to Champney’s, which I am guessing might be R. gigantea.”

I had the distinct impression that cultivars like Park’s Yellow Tea are heavily influenced by R. gigantea, so if that species is in Park’s Yellow, would that not be apparent in this data? I would think that if Park’s Yellow and Champney’s Pink shared this species ancestor, we’d see evidence of it here, no? Maybe I’m not following…


The Champney’s Pink Cluster is said to have come from a cross between Old Blush (thought to be a cultivar of R. chinensis) and R. moschata (the Musk Rose). A DNA study a few years ago supported that parentage. It will be interesting to see what is found when thorough DNA testing of species and hybrids is done.


Maybe I’m not following…

Hi Paul, you’re following just right.

The problem is they did not test Parks (unless it is there under a name I do not recognize). I think you are correct, if they had included it we would see it sitting in line with Champneys. Likewise gigantea.

I don’t know enough about gigantea, Champney’s or Parks’s, not having grown them. The reason I suspect gigantea as the missing ancestor is because it’s growth habit is well described in the literature and I think it might be the source of the bolt-upright stems we see in the modern HT’s. It is also known to be present in a lot of the OGR’s although I didn’t exhaustively search for it among the ancestors of the cultivars they tested.

R. chinensis) and R. moschata

Hi Jim,

I do consider moschata to be a possibility. However, it is present in a lot of the earlier OGR’s and I would expect it to have pulled those farther to the left if this was the case. The effect we see with Champney’s is pretty big.

In any event these charts are gross simplifications of the real situation with roses. The PCR chart (figure 3) is a two dimensional fabrication based on n-dimensional matrices. Likewise, the phylogenetic tree is a heirarchical representation of data that really requires a network representation - think of hybrids as being cousins in a big genealogical chart. The software is getting better though.


I think Jim is right; the background of Champney’s Pink is pretty much a known thing based on that DNA research on it.

I think the reason R. gigantea was used in breeding was to introduce two traits into roses: 1) the large bloom size and 2) the tall, pointed buds with their scrolled bud form. The bolt upright canes comes more from the Hybrid Perpetuals, I believe.



The bolt upright canes comes more from the Hybrid Perpetuals, I believe.

You are no doubt correct but these HP’s got it from somewhere else - gigantea maybe? Admitedly I am making wild guesses. Moschata, gigantea, fedtschenkoana - the list of species they did not test leaves us wanting more data.

Another factor that may be at work is simply the genetic diversity among cultivars. Chinensis and gigantea both offer a spectrum of wild types spread over several thousand miles. It could be the variety they tested was not close to that which the European breeders had available to them.

You can see evidence of this diversity within some of the cultivars of (ostensibly) the same roses they tested. They used Cristata, Crested Provence and Chapeau de Mapoleon (#'s 18, 19, and 20). HMF lists these as synonymous, yet the the pcr data clearly distinguishes among them. Likewise for Duc d

Speaking of ancestral species: IMHO upright canes and branching is a gallica feature be they wild or cvs.

Gigantea has wide branching as is evidenced in Teas and Fortune Double Yellow as well as in its direct hybrids.

The most prominent chinese contribution to early as well as actual HTs being through Parks’ Yellow Tea-scented China that has probably gigantea ancestry.

As for moschata its earlier than Champney’s supposed contributions were redirected to fedtschenkoana after DNA analysis. Isn’t it?

There is then a real possibility in moschata being the new different contribution.

My two cents

I thought the upright canes came from Rosa centifolia?



I agree with Pierre that the bolt-upright, suckering canes in Hybrid Perpetuals are a feature of the gallicas. The way the continuing growth pops up right below the inflorescence is also characteristic. I also agree that R. moschata could be the source of the missing data. Viewed at its broadest, it has an enormous range (or was introduced) from the Himalayas west to North Africa.

I suspect that the reason Parks Yellow Tea-Scented China wasn’t tested is that there is no agreement that any rose sold under that name today is the real thing. The various oddities I’ve seen with that name don’t persuade me, based on historical descriptions and the source of the attributions.

As for Gigantea ancestry in Teas (I don’t buy Fortune’s Double Yellow as Gigantea offspring-there are other rampant, viciously thorny tropical climbers that are better prospects as parents, IMO), I’ve seen enough of R. chinensis var. spontanea to recognize it has enough shared characteristics of Gigantea – drooping, mahogany-colored new growth; and narrow, long, pointed, high-centered buds; relatively small receptacle; and long, pointed foliage - - to explain the growth habits of Teas. I just photographed Rosa gigantea grown at Kew Gardens. It is enormous grown as a shrub, as big as R. laevigata. The early teas are too small and too tender to have Gigantea ancestry unless they were derived from a Gigantea variety from the far north of its range, where Gigantea and Spontanea overlap. I’m not aware that that particular variety or subspecies of Gigantea (pink, around 6 or 8 feet tall) is in cultivation in the West.

Once repeat flowering is introduced, even in very large species, size is greatly reduced. I’ve seen this in my work with R. banksia.

Viru Viraraghavan’s work with the Indian form of R. gigantea has reiterated this fact. I do think early Teas could quite conceivably be derived largely from gigantea.

Keep in mind that R. chinensis and R. gigantea are already closely allied species.

Repeat flowering was derived from the early chinas, often with 50% chinensis lineage to accomplish remontancy. They are going to resemble R. chinensis regardless.

Do you know where I can find this PDF document (complete) ?

I just found an other interesting rose dendrogram here :