Persian Yellow - Question of identity?

David Zlasak’s information about the triploidy of Persian Yellow raises a couple of interesting questions. Starting with the most obvious, I’ve been looking up references using Google Books and found that Persian Yellow has been confused with other yellow roses for literally centuries. A link to the older references appears below. For example, I found a letter to the editor in 1852 about Persian Yellow being confused with Harison’s Yellow. In Ellwanger (1891), I found a description of a rose named ‘Miss Tweed,’ described as “pale yellow, semi-double; it has nine leaflets, rarely seven; Persian Yellow has seven leaflets only; remembering this, it is always a simple matter to distinguish the varieties when out of flower.”

David, I am curious if the plant you used matches the historic descriptions: with brown wood, only 7-leaflet leaves, faintly scented Sweetbriar-scented foliage, a cupped golden-yellow bloom, a spreading growth habit, foul-smelling blooms.

Ellwanger describes it at:

“Bright yellow, small, nearly full, well formed; small foliage, faintly scent like the sweetbrier; seven leaflets; the wood is chocolate brown in color; armed with numerous brown thorns; it is the finest of all hardy yellow roses. It must not be closely pruned;… Does not grow from cuttings.”

I’m not much surprised that Persian Yellow is probably a hybrid rose and not a species. Many roses that were described by Lindley and others in the early 1800’s were nominally treated as species but much more likely to be hybrid garden plants. Carnea, the hybrid multiflora, and the Stud Chinas are obvious examples. This is why I welcome a revision of the Genus.


Hi Cass,

Thanks for this great information. I uploaded 3 pictures of one of the plants I counted as 3x from Lyndale Park Rose Garden on HelpMeFind so you can see it. It seems to match the more double flowered one with pictures on HelpMeFind with more of a full almost Austin rose/tiny bit quartered center to some of the flowers. The stems are brown. Probably most of the leaves have 7 leaflets, but there is some variation.

Thanks, David! I agree the bloom is an excellent match, nicely globular, good brown coloring of the canes, spreading, drooping habit. It’s certainly a beautiful thing. I was amused to see that the best illustration I found showed 9 leaflets. Note to Ellwanger: nothing in roses is “always.”

I’m still waiting to hear if the blooms smell like bed bugs. ;~)

I am considering getting Persian Yellow as using to breed hardy yellow climbers. It is hardy, good yellow color, but it has bs problems. Would some of it offspring be better choices than Persian Yellow?

Personally, it has more than just bs problems. Think of all of the other issues that had to be bred out of it-- awkward growth and habit, die back and thorniness. It has two excellent traits, in my opinion – bloom color and tolerance to extreme climates.

A related question is: which Persian Yellow did Joseph Pernet-Ducher use to breed Soleil d’Or?

Good question.

Hello folks,

Oh my god folks! First I was just glancing through the messages and saw this about persian yellow. Yep! I grew the right one! Let me tell you what if you want to use a parent that defoliates from black spot this is the one to use! It is of my opinion EEK run away! Maybe the pernetiana’s wouldn’t have been absorbed into the hybrid tea group.LOL

The same can be said of R. alabukenis. I’ve used the double version. The seedlings developed Blackspot even in my climate.


The single R. alabukensis develops horrible blackspot here in West Virginia. I’m assuming that alabukensis is some sort of Spinosissima. Clearly not all Spins are resistant to disease.

Do we know that Pernet used Persian Yellow? He might have (some of the Pernetianas are triploid), but he might also (and is more likely to) have used Austrian Copper or Austrian Yellow (R. foetida or foetida bicolor), and I’d guess he did. That is what he did, according to more than one source I’ve read in the past 40 years.


I always assumed it was Rosa foetida itself that they used.

Brent Dickerson in his books wrote ‘Antoine Ducher’ x ‘Persian Yellow’ with a lot of concording early sources.

No other species is considered by any source. Rosa foetida persiana is another name for ‘Persian Yellow’.

Rosarians then knew the rare and quite hard to confuse yellow sp and vars at hands and Pernet the least. More so he probably knew better than anybody. And had little tendency to be unfaithfull as this rose even if immediatly recognized as quite extraordinary and a winner of a host of prizes was introduced at a moderate price.

The same year 1900 Pernet introduced a foetida hybrid:

‘Rhodophile Gravereaux’ Rosa foetida Herrm.

With more than 10 000 descendants it is probably the unique ancestor for better yellow. Allmost totally through a single seedling ‘Rayon d’Or’.

It is easy to overlook the fact that Antoine Ducher was the product of two generations of intensive selection for yellows by Pernet-Ducher’s in-laws and other French breeders. It actually took nearly a century to come up with Soleil d’Or.

Have a look at Madame Domage, grandma to Antoine Ducher, bred 107 years before Tropicana.


Most enjoyably this forum is thought provoking which gets me searching! WooHoo, I got to thinking about my “goldilocks”. She doesn’t get the blackspot. She isn’t a vigorous grower, but wow can the cuttings strike easy! Then at times I see that orange she shows just after the bud begins to break. Then I started thinking about repetative asexual reproduction. Does it make a difference in the genetics? Peace being an example from debate. Ok, I got away from subject at hand, but this is where I go in reading.

Goldilocks defoliates here by June. It doesnt suprise me that it strikes easily, though.

On topic-- I wonder what is contained in Melanie Soupert?

Ross, quite a while ago, Mr. Radler left a note on this board about alternatives to using Harrisons Yellow. He mentioned Williams Double Yellow as a good alternative. Its very cold tolerant and has less of a disease problem. I would stress the word less because I am not saying it is disease free. Perhaps WDY could be considered as a good alternative to Persian Yellow as well? Interestingly, he mentioned that it sets hips easily. I dont find that the case. The WDY I have from Vintage has few stigmas to apply (malformed) pollen to and I have seen no hips on mine. Produces gobs of pollen through.

The variety that is most commonly accepted as WDY usually has very few stigmas available. Sometimes all the pistils are fused. See the pictures on HMF.

It does set a few OP hips, but is not likely to be “easy” as a seed parent. Whether this is the “real” WDY is unknown, of course. We are finding that some roses in commerce do not match the descriptions given for them when they were introduced. Should we credit the spirit of Darwin or just assume mislabeling? I’d bet on mislabeling.



Could you be more explicit?

I do not see the

“two generations of intensive selection for yellows”.

Antoine Ducher is an Hybrid Perpetual. Red blend. Strong fragrance.

Madame Domage is an Hybrid Perpetual. Red. Strong fragrance.

No evidence here of a Parks Yellow ancestry.

Hi Pierre.

Well it looks like somebody didn’t like that photo.

I do not see the “two generations of intensive selection for yellows”.

Just look through the Ducher and Pernet inventories. The Ducher family had been working on yellow since the 1830’s - Reve d’Or and William Allen Richardson being only two of many. Joseph Pernet acquired quite a pool of yellow genes when he married into the Ducher family, not that he needed it. Pernet p