Rosa Helenae Hybrida Off Spring Success in NAmerican Cold Zones?es?

Have N. Amercian cold zone hybridizers (zone 3/4) used this rose successfully ? Any track record experience willing to share here ? Seems one might be able to develop a hardy rambler/climber from it?

… curious as it seems not many found, yet R. Helenae hybrida does not seem to be winter adverse (hardy rambler that may be superior to White Star of Finland?).

It appears the Scandinavians have two cross successes, Ran and Ydrerosen as well there is one Canadian “old” rose, Patricia Macoun … quote HMF: “open-pollinated seedling of R. Helenae” (plant donated to a NA cold zone collection source for a greater access cause)

Patricia and Ran (latter young in my garden) have/had no significant problems to -25C … have my fingers crossed Rosa Helenae, Yderrose and Rosa Helenae Starkodder land this year.

whoops again … sp should be … Ydrerosen (Rosa helenae ‘Hybrida’ × Super Excelsa ® ) … look similar in photos to Lillian Gibson which has on and off again winter performance … and with Rosa helenae’s also Rosa helenae “hydrida” variant? (seedling) … latter apparently more mannerly … can’t wait for this test to start

Can’t contribute any observations for you, but I am of the mind that there a good many species in the Synstyllae section that have not been adequately mined for their potential. Helenae is one I have wondered about for over a decade, based on my readings about the species at the time. (Never acquired nor grown it to date.) It’s not really a concern in my neck of the woods, but I do wonder about its relative cold-hardiness, however. My impression is that e.g. Brunonii might be a little hardier.

If I’m not mistaken, “Helenae Hybrida” has never been imported to North America; I am not familiar with the additional two Scandinavian crosses you mentioned, but it seems reasonable to assume that they have not yet reached this continent, either, unless they’ve quietly snuck into Canada as such roses occasionally do. Although ‘Patricia Macoun’ was bred a long time ago and surely was grown a bit more widely in some northern states at one time, I’ve never seen it in a garden, and I don’t know when it might last have been sold here commercially. Both varieties could be extremely desirable from a breeding perspective, and it’s a shame that they aren’t more available (or available at all, in the former case) here.

I don’t think there can be much doubt that Rosa helenae as collected from the majority of its range in China is hardier than Rosa brunonii; both the reports of its performance and the colder regions from which it hails stand in support of that conclusion. The only question for me is how it stacks up against, say, R. multiflora in that respect (not that R. multiflora has the same set of ornamental qualities to contribute, of course.)

The species has long been scarce in U.S. gardens, and lately, some if not all of the material masquerading around as R. helenae in commerce was something else. I’ve purchased plants with that name before that I identified instead as R. gentiliana. At least one recent wild collection has been made that should hopefully soon be growing in some public gardens, so there is hope for that to slowly begin to change. The only hybrid of R. helenae I know of that has been sold recently in North America is ‘Lykkefund’.


Although ‘Patricia Macoun’ was bred a long time ago and surely was grown a bit more widely in some northern states at one time, I’ve never seen it in a garden

I have. At Elizabeth Park in Hartford, Connecticut there is small ‘test garden’ across the road from the main rose garden. It is/was fenced by an arbor along the north, east and south sides and planted along that arbor are/were a number of remarkable cultivars that include(d) hugonis, moyesii, Vielchenblau, Aglaia, Wind Rush, Golden Wings, City of York, and others. Patricia Macoun is/was at the west end of the south arbor between Dorothy Perkins, at the end, and American Pillar.

I have not been to Elizabeth Park in a number of years hence my uncertainty over the extant cultivars but many of the boundary plants had been there since about 1905 so the odds are good Patricia Macoun is still there.

Thanks for the input and information and all of it is really appreciated.

Having just finished a week of nights below -30C and days below -25C, and now a week of plus, this potentially promising species variants and off-spring - if they land successfully - will get a good testing, as will R. xanthina to see if historical information of hardy to lower than -30 C is true in my garden. I grow a few of the small bloom single non recurrent yellows that for most part hardy. However provenance and names too debatable (aka memory failure after label lost) except for rosa primula and Ormiston Roy.

Don, that’s both good and bad news about Elizabeth Park–unfortunately, Stephen Scanniello has reported recently that the ramblers there were hit very hard by Rose Rosette Disease (see the Heritage Rose Foundation’s December 2019 newsletter: Hopefully this one will show some fortitude in the face of that, but I don’t know if there is necessarily reason to believe that R. helenae and its offspring would be any more resistant than others.

I see on HelpMeFind that ‘Patricia Macoun’ is also still found to a limited extent on the West Coast, and is growing at the San Jose Heritage Rose Garden, but as with any public collection the question of how to ensure that the roses are not only preserved but are being propagated and distributed remains. I wonder if a nursery like Palatine Roses might be willing to pick it up (being, hopefully, slightly more widely grown in Canada), which could breathe a little new life into the variety.

Stephan, thanks for the link. I’ll take a ride to Elizabeth Park in the spring to check things out. It’s not the first time RRD has been noted there. Back in the 1980’s several batches of infected plants got into the mix and in those days we really didn’t know much about it so nothing was done to mitigate it except to turf out dead and dying plants. IMHO winter here is a great cleanser especially when we get deep freezes with little or no snow cover is is happening now.

BTW if you have a pipeline to Stephen Scanniello you might mention to him that there is a problem with the website domain registration. Though it does look like the city itself is the owner of the domain he may know who to call.

Hi Stefan

Just wokeup and txs for the point to Lykkefund … what a great Helenae - ZD crossing to test for zone 3/4 and stated fragrant ! Lykkefund on inventory list so revision coming. Hopefully it is available and lands.

Tried a pollen parent sacrificial “Zephy” pretender, though thornless was not (mislabeled), with a couple of hardies this summer. None took. I guess Scandinavians think alike … and using sisu does not hurt for out-there hybridizing.



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Rosa helenae (Rehder & E.H.Wilson) × Zéphirine Drouhin (bourbon, Bizot 186Lykkefund,
White or white blend. Strong fragrance. Medium, semi-double (9-16 petals) bloom form. Once-blooming spring or summer.
(Aksel Olsen Denmark, 1930)

Yep, ‘Lykkefund’ has a very good scent–I would imagine that straight R. helenae does also. It’s a similar fragrance to R. moschata and R. brunonii in terms of both intensity and quality. Its foliage is not overly disease resistant here, but it sets hips well, and its lack of prickles extends even to the undersides of its leaves. I don’t know yet whether its smoothness is heritable but it really is wonderful to work around a rose without any fear of being stabbed or grabbed. In terms of hardiness, most Scandinavians tend to rate it as somewhat less hardy than “Helenae Hybrida” by maybe a full zone or so. Unfortunately, I also haven’t managed to get it to root from cuttings, which is not a problem I’m accustomed to having with ramblers of any kind. Since the canes keep getting nailed by borers, it hasn’t really gotten large enough for me to comfortably try different rooting techniques.

I believe that the stated pollen parent was more speculative than definite–‘Zephirine Drouhin’ was guessed at because of the lack of prickles, but it evidently arose from open pollination and only the seed parent was known for certain. It’s not out of the question that ZD could have been involved, of course.

Don, it has been quite a few years since I’ve spoken with Stephen, but if there is contact info at HRF, you might be able to get in touch with him there–I’m sure he might like to hear from someone else with an interest in Elizabeth Park.


Thanks for again for taking the time to relay in-depth your experience and knowledge of Lykkefund et al … looks like the original seedling discovery was fortunate that it was saved.

Trying to take the next gen. up a notch in hardiness is an exciting objective, if one can carry the fragrance and thornless traits forward. Looks like this rose is a good starting base.

Overhere in Belgium we have 'Red Robin" and ‘Pink Robin’, two roses by Louis Lens, both R. helenae x Robin Hood. I don’t know how hardy they actually are.

Txs for the point to the rose - it shows on inventory list but not sure if its available or the Lens creation. However l will roll the dice to test it. Request from soggy Aloha land, where its green and beats being in zone 3/4 right now.

All of order and the prized (by me anyways) Helenae and hybrids of, made it in excellent health and size for hardiness testing … and hopefully hybridizing potential to get a zone 3/4 rambler … red dawn x suzanne and Suzanne in queue … R. xanthina normalis also arrived to put an end to me using “not sure which yellow” … l hope.

Riku, I’m glad to hear that you were able to get some of these to work with! One word of caution about any straight R. helenae in commerce… I have yet to receive one that was correctly identified. So far they have mainly been R. gentiliana. Hopefully you can find the real McCoy, but it’s definitely a “trust, but verify” sort of situation.

Sorry, I meant to say Rosa longicuspis, not R. gentiliana

Txs Stephan,

One character that is pleasing to confirm is that wrt QC by the nursery, beside the high quality product received for health and size, is the received R. lykkefund has no visible evidence of thorns … l am liking the Zephy theory more and more and this rose is to get pampering through the first winter even if l considered cheating by moi.

That one definitely should be correct, then! I don’t know if it will be cane-hardy above the snow line up there, but that will be neat to find out. Hopefully you were able to find ‘Patricia Macoun’, too. A cross between them might even be able to produce fully repeat-blooming offspring that are around 1/2 R. helenae. If you’ll have both in your garden now, I would love to see someone cross ‘Lykkefund’ with ‘Polstjarnan’–if you succeeded, you could theoretically combine thornlessness and fragrance with really good cold hardiness.

Had a rose named Patricia Macoun (assuming right rose was in garden - source tended to have a 20-30% id error) but donated it as a mother plant to facilitate wider access to others. May have to buy a replacement plant if it makes a market place appearance. Read it had returned from Europe to Canada/ NA, yup apparently one was in my garden for 5 years. The White Star of Finland is in the garden in a couple places … one strong example other fighting a lop sided battle of shade, cotoneaster hedge, and mayday trees … and still surviving :joy: … might try it down the road if Lykkefund makes it to first bloom.

Results in from first winter in sheltered position with protection in CDN zone 4A.

Only one hybrid that had protection met my low bar for acceptable cane survival from tenders. It was Roland Hermansson “Ydrerosen”. Same extent of cane survival l get from some non-protected Cdn moderns.

Cross of R. Helena hydrid and “Super Excellsa”.

Lyykefund coming back strong from below ground with thornless new cane (5-8 inches as of today). O.P. of Helene x bourbon cross is believed in literature. No thorns.