Rosa sericea as a parent rose?

Hi! The last thread on this is quite old so I wanted to see if anyone had any luck with R. sericea as a pollen parent at all? Any seedlings come of it/notable traits? Pictures would be loved if possible as well!

With one possible exception nothing ever came for me out of hundreds of pollinations using pollen from a dozen or so different omiensis and related cultivars onto everything in my stable. I did get seeds with embryos in very small numbers on rare occasions which either failed to germinate or died in infancy.

The exception that gave seeds was onto virginiana. I did not germinate these on account of not having a concrete lined bed available (think Banshee). It is quite possible that they were selflings but I think I got multiple seeds out of multiple pollinations which is usually a sign of success. If you repeat the cross you should reserve the name “Rampage” for your commercial selection.

I also struck out with a great many pollinations onto my omiensis cultivars.

The one type of cross that I refrained from was omiensis onto spins. My objective was to civilize the winged thorn and that would be the wrong direction for the goal. I think such crosses would succeed as evidenced by cantabrigiensis and the relatively close genetics of the spins with omiensis.

Included in my failures were crosses, both ways, with Ralph Moore’s hulthemias. I had and used all but Persian Light.

R. sericea is a very difficult species to work with. I never got any viable seeds from attempted crosses I made.
I suspect this species will only work with other species in its own group. Years ago Gregg Lowery gave me a plant of R. Pteragonis, a cross of sericea pteracantha and R. hugonis. It looks like sericea pteracantha, but with cream colored flowers. It doesn’t set seed, and I have never attempted to use its pollen, suspecting it to be sterile.

It would be very interesting, to say the least, to get a second generation from some of the existing hybrids - selfed or crossed inter se.

Red Wing - Doorenbos (~1950) hugonis x pteracantha
Cantabrigiensis - Hurst (~1922) hugonis x sericea var. hookeri
Pteragonis - Krause (<1938) hugonis x pteracantha
Hidcote Gold - Hilling & Co. (1948) pteracantha x ?

HMF has pics of hips on ‘Red Wing’, ‘Cantabrigiensis’ and ‘Hidcote Gold’. No guarantee of viable seeds, but hopeful.

I have a cantabrigiensis op that I grew from seeds copped from Kew Gardens. I’ll be happy to send out pollen in the spring. For that matter I’ll send seeds or pollen of any of my omiensis which were all winged to a degree. The most heavily winged, and most hardy, is the cultivar I got from Rogue Valley which I’m pretty sure originated with Dorothy Stemmler back in the day.

Now I’m confused. Do you mean that seedlings from Cantabrigiensis are winged? Maybe I’m reading it wrong.

Good question. My first impulse is to say no but I don’t really remember and there’s no reason to guess. It’s about 10:00 pm and raining but I hiked out and poked around the thicket to see if I could pick a piece of the cantabrigiensis f1. I got something but after looking at the bed map I realize it is either a Sericea f1 from Elizabeth Park or, more likely, an OP from an omiensis at the Royal Botanical Garden Edinburg. I’ll see if I can do better in daylight and sunshine but, since I took the photo, here it is. It is difficult to tell but the thorns are paper thin.

To me the most interesting thing about winged thorns is that they are composite prickles. If I understand the morphology correctly they are a linear array of hairlike prickles that fuse in the direction of the cane and grow tall in a pattern to mimic the ‘normal’ prickle of roses. It could be that they are a more primitive form of the normal prickle.
Picture 1.jpg

Thanks for the info on the prickle structure. Something like rhino horn.

The more I learn about this group of roses, the more interesting they become. And confusing. There seem to be plenty of interesting possibilities even before outcrossing.

The Chrysocarpa form, for example, has larger hips that ripen about a month later than the red versions.

var. Hookeri does or does not have winged prickles. I can’t get that quite clear. But it does have “dense glands” in addition to prickles and bristles.

Cantabrigensis is everything a hybrid should be. It blooms (reportedly) as freely as Hugonis, but is more reliable, and flowers over a longer period than either parent.
“I would place cantabrigiensis at the head of all Hugonis hybrids if only for the fact that in it the unique characteristics of the parent are enhanced rather than merged into something else.”

Oh, yes. The wing-like prickles vary considerably in size. A report in Gardeners’ Chronicle, 1905, states that the prickles range from 1 to 2.5 inches. Wow! The darned thing looks like it’s decorated with razor wire.

And one odd bit of trivia. ‘Thor’, the beautiful large-flowered climber, reportedly had Rosa xanthina as a grandparent. [(Alpha x R. xanthina) x President Coolidge] I wonder if it would be more wiling to cross with members of the Sericea clan.

I’ll take a copy of Thor.

The darned thing looks like it’s decorated with razor wire.

The Rogue Valley / Roses of Yesterday and Today (Stemmler) cultivar can give canes with the prickles running the full length of a cane uninterrupted. The two cultivars from Quarryhill are like the one in the picture. They are more tender than the RV. The prickles are translucent red when fresh and hoary white when they age. Either way they make a statement in an arrangement.

Van Fleet’s Dr. E. M. Mills [R. hugonis x Radiance] looks like a possibility for crossing with a Pteracantha.

Likewise, Kim Rupert’s Lynnie-Hugonis [Lynnie x (1-72-1 x Hugonis)

At the very least, these hybrids might contribute some other qualities to Sericea hybrids.

It occurred to me that Rosa sericea var. denudata might be of value. Crossed with R. hugonis it might yield a hybrid that is more widely adapted than Hugonis itself. And in the F2 (assuming there is enough fertility) one might recover an unarmed shrub with yellow(ish) flowers.

Turning your conjecture into reality begs two questions - is it possible to get a copy of any particular cultivar and, if you do, is it possible to hybridize with them successfully. I’ve addressed the latter question already - it is very difficult to get omiensis to hybridize.

About ten years ago I set out to acquire as many different cultivars of sericea and omeniensis as I could find. After exhausting all my contacts and suppliers I had maybe a dozen, including a couple from collectors who had gone to China. There is one that I know of that I could not get which grows (grew?) along a fence in front of Far Reaches Farm in Port Townsend, Washington. I think one has/had no degree of winged thorns which makes/made it omiensis proper or maybe denudata, take your pick.

About a half dozen cultivars of sericea/omeiensis were still alive last time I checked. I keep them going mostly because somebody should and because of how incredibly difficult it is to get new gene stock out of China.

For that matter there is/was a plant of hugonis at Elizabeth Park that I think dates back to around the founding in 1905. I used pollen from it but never tried rooting any of it. If it is still alive it would probably be a good idea to grab seeds from it for the same reason. My moyesii, same vintage, came from there as a sucker. There is/was a Vielchenblau there too, same vintage.

Also, I got out in the spin bed in daylight and regret to say that the cantabrigiensis op is no more.

Those are valid concerns. Rosa sericea is a highly variable species, with “varieties” that differ only by traits that, we may assume, are hereditary. Some varieties seem to be more valid (in a botanical sense) than others.

To start, sericea var. sericea has slender green pedicels. Those of sericea var. omeiensis are fleshy and red or orange or yellow. Rowley (1959) made chrysocarpa a variety of the species, rather than a subspecies of var. omeiensis. This seems to be justified by a note from the Arnold Arboretum (1920):

Raised from seed sent from western China by E. H. Wilson to the Arnold Arboretum in 1908 or 1910; specimens collected in Hort. H. S. Hunnewell, Wellesley, Massachusetts, by Mrs. S. D. McKelvey, August 8, 1922. (type).

This form differs in its bright yellow fruits from typical > R. omeiensis > Rolfe which has the fruits entirely red or sometimes red with the stalk-like stipe colored orange.

The lighter and brighter color of the larger fruits makes this form even more conspicuous at fruiting time than the red-fruited type, though unfortunately the fruit of > R. omeiensis > which ripens early in July and > a month later in the yellow-fruited form > drops soon after ripening and therefore the display does not last long.

In addition, it appears that the “pteracantha” trait, in a subdued form, is found in other species. I’m currently still trying to figure out how Rosa platycantha var. kokanica became R. kokanica while R. platycantha seems to have vanished.

Then there is Aitchison’s description of R. ecae: “A very distinct species, remarkable for the small size of its yellow flowers and for the very broad bases of its homomorphous prickles, resembling closely in this respect the Central-Asian R. platyacantha, Schrenck.”

And finally there is/was R. macrophylla var. crasseaculeata, which seems to have been absorbed by R. setipoda.

If these are variations on the pteracantha trait (same gene(s) involved), the possible gene pool is expanded a bit … including the yellow-flowered R. ecae and R. kokanica.

I don’t know about crossing a Pteracantha form with R. macrophylla var. crasseaculeata, but the prospective offspring would surely be tall.


I tend to regard morphological minutiae with regard to species as missing the forest for the trees.

Most species are the result of reticulate evolution where you get a broad, sometimes continuous spectrum of morphology tied roughly to geography and geology. Moyesii is such a reticulate system where ‘species’ like davidii, holodonta and others are really just nodes on a cinnamomea reticulate network varying by locale and by ploidy level. Likewise for the spins, of which I regard omiensis as being on that spectrum. I think ecae, hugonis, kakanica and platycantha and, for that matter, spinosissima are likewise nodes on that network. If you take Peter Boyd’s numbers for spin/pimp cutivars he has personally seen they only number in the low hundreds, around 300 iirc, hybrids included.

It’s all largely academic. There are so very few specimens of species roses in commerce that, from a breeder’s perspective, each represents a unique gene pool.

I am as concerned about overlooking trees, vines, shrubs and herbs while discussing forests.

Some traits are obviously adaptive, particularly when the variation in such a trait is shared by species of other genera and families. E.g., Henry (1902) wrote, “Rosa Colletti, Crépin, discovered in the Shan States of Burma, is very close to R. microcarpa, agreeing with it in styles, appendaged sepals, &c. It is apparently a tomentose geographical form of that species, and is interesting, because we find in certain plants (such as Albizzia Julibrissin), tomentose forms as we leave China and get into the warmer regions of Burma and India.”

In other cases, the adaptation may be marked by traits that are not directly adaptive, but which are associated with genes that are linked to the adaptive genes/traits. Fernald (1918):
“In the calcareous area to the north and northwest, however, from the St. John valley in Maine to Gaspé and Anticosti, these species are practically unknown (with the exception of rare colonies of R. nitida in sphagnous bogs and local colonies of R. palustris in the Devonian sandstones about Gaspé Bay) and their places are taken by three species of quite different character; without infrastipular prickles, with glabrous pedicels, hypanthiums and hips, and with the achenes borne on the inner walls as well as at the base of the hips. These three northern calcicolous shrubs have all passed as R. blanda Ait.”

I would not guess that the position of the achenes in the hip has a direct bearing on adaptation to calcareous soil.

In cases of reticulation, we should not assume that ALL the traits of the parents will be shuffled randomly into wholly new combinations. Large groups of traits can hold together, sufficient to associate them with one or the other parent.

Then, too, a cross-breeding species can conceal a surprising diversity of potential phenotypes. The lime-loving species Fernald discussed are all derived from R. blanda, but their shared, non-adaptive traits suggest that they all came out of R. blanda by selection within new habitats. It would be too much to imagine that they converged due to random mutations that occurred just as the populations were becoming local endemics.

Given the several references to Cantabrigensis, maybe someone can confirm the following. Someone has posted several pictures on HMF and state the foilage is fragrant like rosa primula which is the first and only reference I can find. I do note that Sericea (var. Hookeri) is noted to be glandular (again can anyone confirm?)

And just because it’s easy to acquire here would the alleged foliage fragrance be present in sericea pteracantha?

None of the cultivars of omiensis that I grew were particularly glandular. I do not recall noting scented foliage in them or in the couple of cantabrigiensis OP that I grew which originated from seed copped at Kew although the flowers were lightly fragrant on all of them.