Roses with undeclared parentages

When I first started, I was always looking on and seeing the various lineages of roses.

I remember I didn’t consider using roses with “mystery” parentages.

However, now I’m not caring if a rose doesn’t have a fully declared parentages. I believe that when I was first starting out, I wanted to be “tidy.”

Now I’m using a mystery seedling as a parent in breeding program. It came from an op hip of a rose in Mexico City and I don’t really care if it has no declared parentage. I collected this in 2000 and it has made a lovely pink floribunda type of rose.

I’m using Persian Sunset which has its Persica parent listed, but not the pollen parent. In older times, I would have chosen Persian Autumn with all its parents declared.

I even use a creamy-yellow grocery store mini (a parade rose I bought 4 years ago) that provides a lot of pollen and makes hips easily and has an ability to transmit pure white roses when crossed with Heritage.

Does anyone else feel like me, or what real benefit does keeping good records mean for you?

Pedigrees are unvaluables informations when available if to be taken with a grain of salt…

Even the exacting german Kordess are honest enough to release some new vars with “unknown” parentage.

And there are a lot of unlikely or unreliable pedigrees. Such as a very successful triploid from tetraploid parents I wont name.

For the most honests a lot of mistakes are possible. Lost or mixed labels. Mixed seeds or seedlings. And … hybridizing bee contribution. Among other possibilities.

Historically when sowing OP seeds it was common practice to give guessed ancestry.

Or to give false parents in order to make duplication more difficult.

Also there is a lot of motivation for pedigree betterment when ancestry is considered as a marketing argument.

At last tetraploids quite often throw unlikely seedlings and this may lead to unwanted pedigree correction or undisclosure.

I included an extract from the 2001 annual of the Amateur Rose Breeding Association (ARBA) in my article in the RHA booklet Rose Hybridizing

I spent tenth of years studying rose pedigrees before puting my hands at hybridizing. I still do a lot.

That there are many roses with undeclared or unreliable parentage is a fact we have to cope with.

That some tetraploid progenies are unlikely another fact.

The question is: Should we use such vars?

My answer is clear and loud: yes!

There are too few roses able to survive here without sprays so when I find one it is put at work.

Same if I had another goal in mind. Use the promising without questioning about pedigree reliability.

Just as I would release any valuable enough var with lost pedigree.

The doors (of the background of unknown parent roses) will (in all probability) be opened in the future due to the rapid advancements in experimental genetics.

I feel that (for example) that if one has a potentially great parent (gene-wise), it would be wise to use select mixed pollen in order to shorten the time required to tap this potential.

I understand the rationale of using roses of unknown parentage in ones breeding program when there is a rose that has has some desired qualities. I was refering to those crosses where parentage is known on either side that it is nice to know. I have used unknowns and have mixed pollen as well, but when I know something about a particular specimen, I will mention it.

There is another case.

It is when a breeder does not disclose his most original discoveries. When he find something ignored as long as he knows and is intending to take full advantage from his findings.

Many industrial processes are not patented as patents are published and astute concurrents often go round and take much easier original findings for themselves. Industry is jungle.

Rose breeding is an industry and it is no wonder that there is biased or undisclosed informations.

I.e. the high investment, highly competitive cut rose vars pedigrees are quite often undisclosed when certainly better known than any.

Wow, it’s disappointing to not be able to learn pedigrees. I was so excited that the patent of ‘Sunrise Sunset’ (recent shrub rose from Bailey Nurseries) was published. I went straight to the pedigree section as fast as I could and learned it was a seedling by a seedling without the parents of those seedlings listed. What matters most as we breed is that the parents we are using are passing along the genes which confer the traits we are most interested in so we can have good performing seedlings. Sometimes we can take a better gamble at recessive traits a rose might be carrying if we know it’s pedigree.

As mentioned so clearly, there are so many reasons that can come into play why a pedigree may be inaccurate or disguised. Mistakes happen more often than we think. In my mind some chrysanthemums I helped plant comes to mind. On the planting crew we had flats of seedlings and would shift from family to family. A couple flats spilled off of the tractor and seedlings fell all over. We tried to guess which flat and family they came from. There are a couple of advanced selections from that part of the field now. Also, even well-meaning breeders can have seedlings that they do their best to keep records on and unique situations happen. Case in point, for part of a chapter in my Ph.D. I looked at the origin of ‘DayDream’. It is reported as ‘Lavender Dream’ x ‘Henry Kelsey’. My AFLP data (type of DNA marker) is very clear that ‘Henry Kelsey’ is not the dad. In fact, the data points to ‘DayDream’ being an apomictic seedling of ‘Lavender Dream’. There is ~94% band similarity between the two with the differences being primarily DD missing bands LD has. It is very likely that ‘DayDream’ resulted as an unfertilized 2n egg with just a little bit of recombination at meiosis. The little bit of recombination resulted in just a little bit of inbreeding and the duplication of some alleles and loss of others. No wonder they look so so so similar! I trust ‘Henry Kelsey’ pollen was placed on ‘Lavender Dream’, but that special seedling resulted not from a true cross.

Sometimes for ease of reporting pedigrees are shortened by well meaning people such as Knock Out. Some places say just Carefree Beauty seedling x Razzle Dazzle seedling instead of spelling out the whole pedigree like Bill let us publish in the newsletter years ago. Also sometimes for ease of reporting things are shortened. Like for my ‘Hannah Ruby’ I think I reported it as ‘Splish Splash’ x polyantha seedling. That polyantha seedling is an op seedling from a seedling I grew from the ‘Angel Rose’ polyantha mix of seeds from Thompson and Morgan.

That’s interesting Pierre too that you mention that sometimes triploid offspring from tetraploid parents seems odd. Perhaps that a clue for mixed up pedigrees. I was surprised that I found a handful of 3x offspring over the years from my tetraploid crosses and the hybrids look like they could come from the recorded parents. I believe it is possible for that to happen. Chromosome pairing and meiosis I think can get really mixed up in modern roses and lead to gametes with strange chromosome numbers periodically. ‘Out of Yesteryear’ is a triploid from the cross of two 4x parents as well.

As I think about all of this the more I wonder how valuable reported pedigrees are! I still love to learn what I can though about pedigrees and guess I just have to take them with a grain of salt sometimes.



This year I am getting germinations from some crosses which are producing very few seedlings. The thing that immediately comes to mind is perhaps that I didn’t emasculate well enough or foreign pollen was introduced?

Time will tell whether the offspring look to be the product of the intended cross.

I am trying to avoid using roses with undeclared parentages but it’s sometimes too tempting to break that rule.

While it is very interesting to research parentage, esp when it comes to disease resistance, rose genetics is so unpredictable that ignoring those roses with unknown parentage means you may be missing fun and potentially useful breedings. Watching the seedlings produced by the parents, to me, tells me much more.

Me too I spent tenth of years and still do studying pedigrees. I would like everything to be known. In an ideal world?..

Well may be just roses pedigrees. :wink:

Out of Yesteryear being a triploid is not that odd as its pollen parent had “diploid” bracteata cytoplasm and I have been told by chromosome counters that then tetraploids send all ploidies pollen. Hint for hexaploid x diploid crossers.


Could you remember me/us Knock Out full pedigree. I cannot find it. Search the forum only give access to 2006 contributions.

The female parent (i.e., the seed parent) was a seedling of the Carefree Beauty variety (U.S. Plant Pat. No. 4,225). The male parent (i.e., the pollen parent) of the new variety was a seedling of the Razzle Dazzle variety (U.S. Plant Pat. No. 3,995).

That’s from the patent. Carefree Sunshine is even more cryptic. I once saw the full lineage of Carefree Sunshine (it was a massive pedigree that had a lot of Rise N’ Shine, First Prize and Sunsprite in it) but I cant seem to find it again.

Personally I do a lot of research on parentage and lineage. Particularly when I am considering adding new roses to the garden for potential use in my breeding program. I will often look at a rose for several generations in both directions. I will look at the parents and grandparents and review what other offspring those parent and grandparents produced. What dominant traits are showing up in the seedlings that made it to commercial release? Now, obviously I am only getting a snapshot here as there are certainly countless seedlings that didn’t get commercially released. But, often there is some insight that can be gained from this review. I will also look to see how a rose was most often used in the registered offspring that are listed. It can provide some idea of whether this might be one that can be used predominantly as a pollen or seed parent. Not that I won’t try for myself…but, it is often good to have some indication of this ahead of time.

As Judith mentioned, observing the traits that are produced in your own seedlings is what I personally consider the most valuable and most reliable. Here, you are not viewing just a select few, but the entire “batch” per se and can garner much more accurate information on what, if any, traits are presenting dominantly in the offspring. I keep a lot of records on the types of traits that were most common to various crosses…which in turn dictates further crosses to determine which parents are predominantly contributing different traits and in what context…be it strong fragrance, glossy foliage, disease resistance…whatever. I can classify some of my roses now as being strong foliage contributors when used as a pollen parent, but not when used as a seed parent, or vice versa. And the same for some other traits. For me, records are important. But, then again…I am a little retentive. LOL

Personally, I like having as complete a picture as possible. Having the parentage information coupled with personal observation is what I feel works best for me. However, having said that, I don’t hesitate to try a rose with unknown parentage in my breeding. I don’t exactly like not having the parentage information…but it won’t stop me from using it. It just means I am starting with less information than I would like.

I just take an available and accurate parentage as a gift, not a given. I’m not so sure how soon we’ll be using genetics to determine completely unknown background when it comes to cultivars, but probably disproving or clarifying parentage is more likely as in David’s wonderful example (I had really wondered about that, too!). I think most of us will continue to carry on quite well in a world where some things are known, but most things are still (thankfully, I would add) at least a little bit mysterious.

I have always enjoyed being able to look back on pedigrees and also find it frustrating when they are not disclosed. To me it is silly to refuse to disclose known pedigrees.

On the other hand, I have had plenty of seedlings that come from either totally unknown, or partially unknown (unknown pollen parent) parentage. I just reviewed my data on seeds planted this year and between 6% and 7% of the seeds have pollen parent listed as “unknown”. This past year was especially bad with snails eatting my paper tags that I used to list pollen parents!

It is my impression that some people list “select pollen”, to indicate that they used several desirable pollen parents mixed together in performing their crosses.

I think Judith is right that more information can be gained by viewing the results of our crosses. Careful observation can lead us down more productive paths.

Jim Sproul

Well, for what it is worth here are my tow pennies worth of thought.

I think knowing the parentage is important. The traits that are passed on came from the roses past parentage. Period.

My many years of dog breeding required extensive and accurate recording of information including parentage. I used line-breeding and even some limited and very heavily thought out inbreeding to establish certain traits in my dogs that I could pretty well count on from generation to generation to show up in my litters. Ultimately that made choosing breeding partners much easier and valuable after several generations. My dogs and those of several of my respected peers always had a certain “stamp” or “style” that another veteran breeder could identify as coming from my breeding even without having to read the parentage or pedigree. That is where individual interpretation of the standard of perfection played out. My ideal of perfection and anothers could be very different. We put different levels of trait quality importance on our respective kennels produce.

Yes, I know and can already hear the chatter that breeding roses and dogs are so very different, and I grant that fact. However, you will not convince me that being responsible enough to report true parentage is not important and doesn’t make a difference.

John Moody

Interesting John. I also breed dogs and feel the same way.