As some of you may know Polstjarnan (North star) was bred in Finland in the 1930s. It is a cross of Rosa beggeriana with a polyantha rose. It must be the only Finnish rose that has spread widely, mainly because of its extraordinary hardiness, of course. It is (annoyingly) common in our country, with its horrible thorns, and does well up to the arctic circle. Jinks, I think you should try Floralinnea in Sweden (http://www.floralinnea.com/frameset/welcome.html). I’ve ordered from them several times and they don’t have a minimum order (at least not to Finland). Their web pages are in Swedish only, but you can e-mail (info@floralinnea.com).

Unfortunately, Polstjarnan is almost infertile like many of you have noted. It has been tried by the University of Helsinki breeding program but with poor results.

It roots very easily from cuttings, so if anyone of you living within the EU is interested I can send some.


Hi Jukka,

Is the Rosa beggeriana selection used to produce Polstj

The polyantha parent of Polstjarnan is "Orl

Thanks Jukka,

When ever is best for you would work for me.

Hardwood cuttings work well for me in winter, or semi ripe and softwood cuttings in summer and autumn.

Budwood works whenever.

I have emailed the list of roses to you.

Thanks again



I was intrigued and excited you obtained your ‘Ross Rambler’ from Morden. For one thing, I’m not aware the Research Station still has this cultivar. The large shrub of this cultivar was located in the arboretum and it was dug out (along with the other shrub rose species and cultivars in the collection) many years ago. In case people are concerned these cultivars were lost, most of them were relocated to a different site.

In the 1980’s, on one of my visits to Morden, I had a look at the ‘Ross Rambler’ shrub. It was growing close to a Rosa laxa. Afterwards, I had a chat with Lynn Collicut (rose breeder) and mentioned soemthing about ‘Ross Rambler’ to her. “How do you tell the difference between ‘Ross Rambler’ and Rosa laxa,” she asked me. I didn’t know there was going to be a test, so all I could tell her (since the shrubs were very similar in appearance) was: “‘Ross Rambler’ has round hips and Rosa laxa has elongated hips.” I regret I didn’t compare the number of leaflets of the two shrubs. Whether this ‘Ross Rambler’ at Morden was correctly labelled, it’s too late to be certain 100%. It’s possible, of course, that your ‘Ross Rambler’ came from a different shrub that didn’t originate from the one in the arboretum.

The Devonian Botanic Garden at Edmonton has ‘Ross Rambler’ obtained from Skinner’s Nursery. The plants came from a shrub that had been growing at the nursery for several decades. The DBG also has Rosa laxa I collected from the Brooks, Alberta rose garden. In this case, although the shrubs at first glance are similar in appearance, on closer examination they are different. The canes of ‘Ross Rambler’ are more dense and prickly than Rosa laxa. If ‘Ross Rambler’ is a selection of Rosa beggeriana, that is what I would expect. I’ll observe the two shrubs more closely this year.

“‘Ross Rambler’ has round hips and Rosa laxa has elongated hips.”


The second image of HMF entry of “Ross rambler” clearly shows an elongated hip.

Do you think that in reality it is R.laxa image?


My seedlings of R. laxa from Joan are also quite different in appearance (to date, I’ve only had leaves to compare, though) from the ‘Ross Rambler’ she gave me. Looking at pictures from last fall, I can see that one of the R. laxa that is a little bigger is consistently producing 9-leaflet leaves, while I can only discern up to seven leaflets per leaf on even the most vigorous shoots of the ‘Ross Rambler’. Once my plant is a little more mature I’ll try to key it out and see which species it really conforms to best.

Ilya, yes it is a photo of Rosa laxa. I know this species well. Sorry, Peter.

The plant with the hips on it in the picture on HMF is from the start obtained from Morden by Joan.

The hips and the blossom are very much like those on a plant I obtained from Bill Rowe of Penfield, NY many years ago and grew in Lubbock, Texas.

Percy Wright was the source of the plant from which Bill got the sucker which he sent me. This plant had elongated hips. I had it planted about 5 feet from a bush of R. laxa which I’d bought from Percy. The major difference between the two is that the “Ross” rebloomed in the late season and had red, ripe hips and white flowers at the same time while the R. laxa from Percy did not rebloom in any general way although once in a long while it did have a stray blossom in the late summer.

About the Ross Rambler, Percy Wright had this to say in American Rose Annual (1974):

“The botanical characteristics of the plant [Ross Rambler] are very like those of Rosa laxa alba, which is a native of the adjacent area of Turkestan in central Asia. It has 3 differences from R. laxa alba, however, and one would have a hard time deciding, even if one were a trained taxonomist, which should be regarded as the species and which as the sub-species. R. laxa alba has 9 leaflets per leaf, rather than 7, rarely produces any flowers in the fall, and attains a height of only 8 or 9 feet. Of these differences, the most surprising is the absence of the gene for everblooming, or rather, perhaps, its presence in the Ross Rambler. Both roses have single flowers of medium size and pure white. Both sucker freely, and the Ross Rambler, at least, comes readily from root cuttings.” (Below is a link to the complete article on Karl King’s excellent site.)

This is the direct testimony of the man who was closely associated with the Ross Rambler from its discovery, and a strong advocate of its use in breeding.

Even in Percy’s time there was difference of opinion about what Ross Rambler was. Percy commented on this controversy in a letter to me, dated May 25, 1978, in which he said the following:

"Roy Shepherd is incorrect when he suggests that the Ross Rambler is related to R. beggeriana, but F. L. Skinner had the same opinion. The Ross rose is closely related to Laxa Retzius. Laxa grows to 10 feet, the Ross R. to 20 or more. Laxa has an occasional fall bloom, the Ross blooms all summer long like a HT. Their leaves, stipules, thorns, flower, etc are all but identical.

“There are NO descendants of the Ross R. except those originated at the Morden (Manitoba) Station by Wm. Godfrey, now deceased, and a few recent ones by me. The Ross rose remains largely unexploited. The roses Caribou, Nascapee & Ojibway have no relation whatever to the Ross rose, having been originated before the Ross R. was available. Godfrey destroyed a part of the full potential of the Ross R. by crossing it first with R. suffulta (12”), & then using pollen of that hybrid."

For what it’s worth, that is what Percy said.

I suspect that Percy would have noticed and mentioned a relatively obvious thing such as a difference in the shape of the hips. That he did not do so when specifically enumerating the differences suggests to me that there was no such difference or that he did not see it.

But perhaps he didn’t notice the difference in hips and we have to accept identification based on a plant identified-as/long-thought-to-be Ross Rambler at Skinner’s nursery.

However, it seems that more and more we know less and less.

I see some possibilities of confusion.

Maybe Percy got confused about which of his plants was Ross Rambler, and began selling as Ross Rambler what was in fact R. laxa Retzius (which he called R. laxa alba). He did have to move his nursery stock more than once because of family financial problems.

Maybe Skinner got confused about where the plant of Ross Rambler was in his nursery (or wherever he had it) and began thinking of R. beggeriana as Ross Rambler. What are the differences between the two in leaves, prickles, height, habit, blossom, hip, etc?

Maybe we need some research on this identification problem.

Are there any pictures of the original Ross Rambler that clearly show hips? I suspect that there are not, but perhaps there would be such pictures in Percy’s papers or in the records of the Dominion Forestry Nursery, Indian Head, Saskatchewan, or in the papers of Norman Ross (who was the head of the nursery at the time of the discovery of the Ross Rambler and who has his name attached to this variety).

I do think it would be good to seek out herbarium specimens and photos of the original plant of the Ross Rambler, and the personal comments of those who grew it. Was there an herbarium at the Indian Head station?

Paul is in the enviable position of being in Canada and having some connections with descendants of those who were involved in some way with the Ross Rambler long years ago, so I nominate him to research this question.

If there is someone who could check on Niel Hansen’s papers and his herbarium (if such exists), that would be good. Is there a volunteer?

By the way, Percy sent me some pollen from Ross Rambler (or what he thought was Ross Rambler), and I put that pollen on Queen Elizabeth, and got a good many seeds. One of the resulting seedlings is about 12 feet tall and is growing in Lubbock, Texas. Its flowers are semidouble, pale pink fading quickly to white, and appear mostly in the early summer, with a few later in the summer. The hips are elongated, and either fatter or skinnier depending on how many seeds they contain. The leaves are bluish. I will try to get assistance in posting a picture of this variety.


Link: www.bulbnrose.com/Roses/breeding/Wright/Wright_rossrambler.htm

My plant of Ross Rambler has quite good rebloom, while a plant I grew from OP R. laxa seed only gives occasional and sporadic rebloom. I

Yes, I have the R. laxa O.P. from Joan, R. laxa from Skinner and I also have Ross from Joan.

All are planted short distances from each other, in the same soil, in a cold pocket at the bottom of my hill.

The two laxas haven’t yet bloomed at the same time; Skinner’s seems to go first every year and lasts longer.

(None of these are getting pampered, they aren’t on the watering system, but I’d rather they grow slow and strong than fast and weak.)

My husband looked at Ross and immediately asked me why we had three laxas. I just said we have the space and time to wait for differences to emerge.

Something that happened fall of 2005 may be significant. My husband used Tordon to try to kill some Poke weed (!) two roses away from Skinner’s laxa. The herbicide didn’t bother Dortmund (which the Poke was growing in) nor did it bother Betty Bland, between laxa and Dortmund. But it almost killed R. laxa from Skinner. This happened to a few other roses elsewhere in our garden…and to me implies that some roses are more enthusiastic root-to-root grafters than other roses.

Since then I’ve been building the roses back up and we no longer use Tordon near any of the roses from Skinner, Buck or in our other species roses.

This is a “beware” for roses that may be kin to laxa.

Wow, These are very interesting points. WHen I saw flowers on the plant of ‘Ross Rambler’ Joan kindly gave me this past summer as a sucker this fall, I thought R. laxa. The leaves and pistils are very characteristic of Cinnamomeae section species like R. laxa. It was 2x and R. laxa is 4x (the original plant supposedly shared by the North American breeders and housed at the MN landscape arb).

From all the discussion, one question comes to my mind which would be interesting to follow up on with molecular analysis- is Ross Rambler the result of an unfertilized egg out of R. laxa? I have a cross of R. virginiana x R. laxa that has consistent fall rebloom. My R. virginiana never rebloomed, nor any crosses ever with rebloomers. It appears this ability to rebloom may be dominant and from R. laxa. I raised some supposed selfs from this interspecific cross and out of them this past summer selected one with better rebloom. I think R. laxa has factors for rebloom which may be different than in most modern roses and behave more dominant. I think RR potentially through possibly forming through an unfertilized got the genes which contribute more to rebloom and the ones that supress it somehow may have been left behind. I think a simple analysis using AFLP markers like what I did to see the origin of ‘DayDream’ may be a simple thing to try to answer the question. If RR is a haploid out of this R. laxa clone with propensity for rebloom R. laxa will have more bands and RR will have less bands but in general just be missing some of those of R. laxa.

I am so excited about this RR clone. The two hips that formed from pollination in the house are turning orange and are elongated like Peter describes.



That is a very impressive photo. It does appear like a small tree as noted in the article by Mr. Wright.

Since it appears that this rose accepts pollen fairly well I am planning to use it with some of my fertile triploid parents. A while back I had asked if anyone thought that fertile triploids would be more likely to produce additional fertile triploids when crossed with a diploid rose. No one realy had an opinion either way so I thought it would be worth investigating. I will be trying to cross it with Golden Glow and Glenn Dale. I am assuming that Glenn Dale is a triploid but dont really know for sure. Pretty sure that Golden Glow is. It will be interesting to see what happens when the pollen from Golden Glow is used on Ross Rambler.

One additional rose I will be trying is to play with is Out of Yesteryear. After the interesting results noted by David and Paul, I will be putting OfY pollen on this rose (be it Ross Rambler or something else) to see what happens.

I also have a r. acicularis and several R. eglanteria plants grown from seed. Be interesting to see what happens there as well.

Regarless of its background, its a interesting rose.

That’s exciting news David. It seems this news would also open up exploration for use of RR with hardy diploid yellows? It’s going to be a very interesting year.

Actually, I hadn’t noticed before but the recent Flora of China treatment of the genus lists R. laxa Retzius as a diploid, 2n=14. Perhaps we have it backwards, and somehow the clone of R. laxa used in previous breeding efforts is a chromosome-doubled version of the species, or another species altogether. Food for thought.


I’ll get back later about this but for now I’ll make a couple of points.

Rosa laxa is almost sure to be a tetraploid. I crossed it with ‘Hansa’, using this cultivar as the pistillate parent. I was only had one seedling that eventually flowered. The single, medium pink flowers were sterile both ways, so this selection was likely a triploid. This shrub may still be growing at Sidney (Victoria), B.C.

“Roy Shepherd is incorrect when he suggests that the Ross Rambler is related to Rosa beggeriana, but F.L. Skinner had the same opinion.” - Percy Wright letter to Peter Harris. It’s unlikely Mr. Shepherd ever grew 'Ross Rambler (he never mentioned in his writings he ever did), so Percy Wright should have noted (maybe he didn’t realize it) that Mr. Shepherd got his information from Mr. Skinner.

Mr. Skinner knew Rosa laxa very well. He was the first to import this species to Canada, when he saw a shrub of it in flower when visiting Dr. Will Alderman, Head of Department of Horticulture, University of Minnesota. He was excited about it because of its repeat bloom. So (assuming he had the right shrub), if ‘Ross Rambler’ was similar to Rosa laxa he would have said so. But he didn’t. Instead, he noted its similarity to Rosa beggeriana which he also grew. He used this species in at least one breeding program to develop ‘John McNab’ and ‘Mrs. John McNab’ (Rosa beggeriana x Rosa rugosa).

I grew one seedling of the ‘Ross Rambler’ located in the Morden arboretum. It was likely self-pollinated. The flowers were similar to the parent but the shrub’s canes were much more pricklier. When I relocated the plant to Vancouver Island, it didn’t do well so I discarded it. I now wish I had saved it.

We can speculate all we want as to the identity of ‘Ross Rambler’ but Peter is right. One has to go back to the original source. I believe a shrub at the Indian Head, Saskatchewan Tree Nursery is from the original ‘Ross Rambler’. It grows across the road from the Administration building. It has to be looked at again and its characteristics noted. Also, as Peter indicated it’s quite possible photos of this cultivar exist at Indian Head. I’ll make a point of visiting Indian Head this summer to check these things out.

I think the important thing to keep in mind, is that Rosa laxa or what has been identified and distributed as ‘Ross Rambler’ has a lot of potential in a breeding program to develop Pillar or Climbing roses for a cold (Zone 3) climate.


I wonder how confident we can be in the identity and origin of the R. laxa at the U of MN, since it would seem to be the progenitor of all the rest.

Even if the ‘Ross Rambler’ is an ordinary selection of the “true” species R. laxa and the other merely a tetraploid version, it would be great to have both an autotetraploid and a diploid incarnation of a genetic resource with so much to offer. I think it offers the breeder more flexibility of choice. Maybe the old R. laxa is an allotetraploid, too (no idea what that could be with - fedtschenkoana? That would explain the floral aroma, I wonder what ‘Ross Rambler’ smells like); I’m assuming the AFLP analysis would answer those questions. It sounds like a really great idea to me!



If you send me a plant import number, I’ll send you some Rosa laxa/‘Ross Rambler’ material to you in the spring to sort out genetically. Plus some other Canadian rose material that I would like to get into the States.

I was in touch with Hugh Skinner today and he informs me that the ‘Ross Rambler’ growing on the nursery site since the 1940’s has flower buds with a slight pink blush. The canes reach 15 feet in length. I have this one. The shrub and flowers are similar to Rosa laxa except for the colour of the bud and the hips. The hips have an unusual subglobose shape,

Hugh mentioned his Rosa laxa grown from seed repeats its bloom quite well. I’m not sure if I can get a propagule of this one to send you but I’ll try.

Another interesting Rosa laxa I can send you is a semi-double selection growing at the Brooks, Alberta rose garden. The shrub is identical to the regular Rosa laxa except for the flowers. How this happened and where the shrub came from is a mystery to me.


Dear Paul, That sounds fantastic. I have to try to figure out where to start for a permit. I think the harder question will be to try to get access to lab equipment again and hopefully just use some a little bit of the supplies on hand instead of ordering new just for this which would be expensive.