Please update progress on near leaveless China Roses

Hi, I was looking at some thousand year old Chinese and Japanes paintings. What I finally noticed was that the roses depicted had few leaves and were all about blossoms. I then cross referenced other paintings and realized that all the flowers were about blossoms and not foliage. It was the sereness of the dark wood against the blossom. Death to life sort of thing. It is what fascinated me about my Cramoisi Superieur. Ding went the light! That is exactly why the China roses are what they are. It was planned that way. Is anyone out there working on more roses in this near leafless style? thanks, Geo

Hi George, if anything I think most breeders would want to breed the long internodal characteristics out new varieties. While I do see the aesthetic appeal of what you’re describing I think this has mostly already been achieved with the long cutting stems of the Hybrid teas as far as commercial applications go. To get long internodes in a garden variety it would seem necessary to develop a climber or large shrub to get those characteristics. I’m not aware of any rose variety that photosynthesizes primarily without leaves as many desert adapted woody plants do. Thanks, Robert

Hi, I need to be more specific. The China roses have, for the most part, dark spindly canes that are angular (crooked) in their growth pattern. From these twiggy canes, short two or three leaf break stems occur producing a rather large, symetrically pleasing blousy blossom. The foliage on the plant is diminuative in comparison to the blossom and the foliage is infrequent. Cramoisi Supereiur, Fortune’s Double Yellow are examples of this type of growth. It is sort of like a cherry tree branch when it blooms. The beauty is in the contrast of bloom to what nearly appears to be dead growth or as I have said twiggy.

I like roses that are more “Portland” if you know what I mean. I like foilage up the neck. I think artist may had painted less foilage then what many roses would normally have to heighten the beauty of the rose.


Only rose that I have that has any qualities similar to what was described would be a Polyantha named ‘Leonie Lamesch’. I’m not trying to be rude but I highly doubt that characteristic would be bred for. I believe there’s a Multiflora mutant with tiny, “bamboo-like” leaves that give an interesting effect but I have not seen it in person.

Here is a response from Pierre Rutten from France. He is unable to post.

Re: Please update progress on near leaveless China Roses

I know the feature you point. Climbers also have this sort of reduced

leaf with normal flower twiglets

Then it may be possible that the few roses seen over time in Chinese paintings on silk and watercolors were the only varieties that met with the Chinese acceptance. The China roses we mostly know (the four stud Chinas) were an example of the epitome of rose breeding for the Chinese much the same way the Hybrid Teas became the epitome of Western rose breeding. So what were the roses the Chinese used to achieve the China roses we know? What crosses ultimately produced the accepted Chinese rose form? Was it more complex than the crosses usually associated with the Chinese rose outcome? Who were some of the other species or species hybrids that led to the China rose to achieve the form the Chinese were after? bracteata? anemoniflora? the cinnamon rose?

Another variety that is often mentioned as having sparse foliage is Cecille Brunner.

George, that was a question that I have asked a long time ago. I have always wondered where did the reblooming trait occur, and that the species roses that rebloom (R. rugosa, R. laxa, R. foliolosa, etc,.) could be distantly related to a single parent.