Rubus/rosa hybrid of Joseph Tychonievich

A little over a year ago, Joseph Tychonievich posted some exciting news that he had ten seedlings from a Rubus odoratus fruit pollinated by ‘mutabilis’, R. hugonis, and R. rugosa. Can anyone familiar with these seedings comment on how they are doing after their first season. What kind of fruit did they produce, if any?

-Mark Lee, Seattle

I think they aborted, but then again I haven’t heard Joseph since forever.

The only intergeneric hybrid I know is Rosa/Hulthemia such as Euphrates, Tigris, Nigel Hawthorne.

From what I remember, the only reason why rubus and rosa, although both similar and both can be found in diploid form, does not cross is because cetain segments of DNA doesn’t combine. Or something like that.

I read on the Garden Forum that the plants looked almost exactly like Rubus odoratus, but new growth was tinged red, and the leaves had stipules - both of these traits being derived from the Rosa pollen parent(s).

I’d sure like to know more about them.

Both sections of the genus Rubus (blackberries and raspberries) naturaly possess stipules very similar to Rosa, though somewhat less foliose (more linear and subulate), so that character wouldn’t necessarily be evidence of Rosa parenthood.

This is a possible hybrid combination I have been interested in for a long time, but I’ve never tinkered with it - maybe next spring to see what turns up.

I pollinated some ‘Scabrosa’ flowers with blackberry pollen two years ago… this failed. I’m thinking I am going to try something similar with setigera. The three-leaflet leaves of setigera look very blackberry/raspberry-like to me. The raspberries are just starting to shoot here so maybe I’ll use them :slight_smile:

A few years ago there was talk about using Potentilla wih roses. Did anyone ever try that?

It seems easier to use dead Rosa pollen mixed with Rubus pollen – or some such idea.

Joseph is working at Arrowhead Alpines now and is still crazy about plants. Here’s Joseph’s blog.

Kind of along these lines, I started testing some mixed pollen ideas a few years back but haven’t gotten to do any involving roses yet. So far, I’ve got an experiment, where I used a high percentage of Iris pseudacorus pollen to “co-pollinate” in a diploid bearded iris cross (two miniature tall beardeds -MTBs). Iris pseudacorus should NOT be able to cross directly with bearded irises. There’s nothing conclusively “pseudacorus” about the seven seedlings I got, but… they sure are odd. Half of the seedlings were abnormally/amazingly vigorous and none of them had a flower form anything like the parents. They all had an ugly sort of primitive / throwback flower form with narrow widely “sprung” standards. It’s possible that these are just plain old MTB X MTB with no involvement or influence from pseudacorus, but they are definitely different enough that I’m going to have to try more mixed pollen crosses.

This season I tried an analogous cross using Iris pseudacorus pollen to “co-pollinate” in a cross between two Tall Bearded irises, but I think I used too high percentage of pseudacorus pollen. None of the co-pollinated blooms set pods while all three normally pollinated flowers set lots of seed.

I also did several cowpea X cowpea crosses this year, using mung bean pollen as a co-pollen. I got three pods with partial fill resulting in about two dozen seeds. Unfortunately, I didn’t do any control crosses for this one.

If you’re interested in sort of thing, you should Google “horizontal gene transfer” and read some of the material about plant mitochondrial gene swapping. There are fairly reputable sources suggesting that it’s a lot more common than we’ve thought.

Here’s an interesting article from Brown University.

…below is a piece from the article, if you don’t have the time to read the whole thing…

“The question, then, how are the plants passing their genes? The best guess at this point is that genetic material carried airborne in pollen grains land on a different species and a small subset of genes somehow get taken up by the host plant during fertilization. Such ‘illegitimate pollination events,’ as Edwards described it, have been seen in the laboratory. “There are reproductive mishaps that occur. In some cases, these could turn out to be highly advantageous,” she said.”

Joseph Tychonievich has been making a name for himself as a plant breeder. Here he is on the American Public Media program The Spendid Table talking about some of his tomato hybrids.

I tried the Potentilla pollen on roses experiment. No success. See the following link:

If you are going to attempt cross-species hybrids with rosa then you should consider using spinosissimas.

In December 2001, Joseph Tychonievich reported:

“I’ve got ten seedlings from a Rubus odoratus fruit pollinated by ‘mutabilis’, R. hugonis, and R. rugosa. I have been bouncing back and forth between thinking that they are hybrids and that they are just OP Rubus odoratus. The leaves are very large and maple shaped – very much like their Rubus mother, in deed, so far they look very much like Rubus odoratus in all respects. But I have noticed that the… arg… I can’t think of the word. Not sepals… Those little leaf-like fringes right where the leaf attatched to the stem. [stipules] Anyhow, in Rubus odoratus, those are practically non-existant, so tiny one can hardly see them. Roses, of course, have much more pronounced ones, and my seedlings have ones (I wish I could think of the name for them!!) that are decidedly different from their Rubus mother. The new leaves also have strong reddish tints, which the rubus does not. All in all, I am very hopeful that they are indeed hybrids. The proof will be in the flowering, of course, though who knows how long that will be. As far as vigor and all, they have been growing very rapidly, their leaves are very large and utterly disease free, slightly wrinkled and fuzzy. I will let you know as soon as they flower – I am madly excited about the things, and a flower bud will launch wild rejoicings.”

If you go back from link to link, you will find that I posted this, but I will bring it forward here.

The following is from an article that appeared in the 1960 Canadian Rose Annual pages 69-70. Of interest are the several crosses of roses with other members of the Rosaceae family. Although the crosses at that time were sterile, it is possible that with modern techniques such as chromosone doubling fertile plants could be made.

Title: Hybridizing Limitations

by Roy E. Shepherd, Medina, Ohio

“The writer has succeeded in budding a rose on to an apple branch and in crossing a rose with a member of the blackberry family, but the bud remained dormant and the seeds did not germinate. Dr. J. H. Nicolas, formerly Research Director for Jackson and Perkins, was more successful as he raised three seedlings of a cross between an apple and a rose. They were similar to the latter in general appearance but showed evidence of apple influence in the bark, foliage, and in the peculiarly colored double apple-like blossoms. The latter, incidentally, were somewhat similar to those produced by Bechtels Crab but not as well formed or as large. The plants were barely remontant and after blooming they were inactive until fall when a second spurt took place. Further experience with Rose x Apple and Rose x Hawthorn crosses gave similar results and all proved to be sterile. They were therefore valueless for use as parents in further breeding along this line.”

Burbank also crossed rose and apple, but nothing useful came of it. Schoener seems to have been a little more successful than Burbank and Shepherd.

Illustrated World 25: 481-482 (1916)



“A freakish development is his rose-apple—a Spitzenburg apple crossed with a wild rose, resulting in an ornamental tree with bright red fruit very suitable for marmalade and jelly.”

I cannot find mention of just which “wild rose of Oregon” was involved, but I wouldn’t be surprised if was Rosa eglanteria (naturalized in Oregon). All those unpaired chromosomes might find approximate mates among the chromosomes of the apple.

The Caninae species might also be useful for crossing (as seed parents) with other relatives.


I think you fella’s are treading on dangerous ground with these Rosaceae family crosses. We have enough virus’s to tend with now without introducing new ones which could cross the species boundry. I do not think it is a wise move do to such things.

Hi Karl,

Rosa canina is naturalized in pockets here. Rosa rubiginosa is naturalized in pockets in Idaho, however. Likewise, Rosa multiflora is naturalized in Oregon, and Rosa foetida is naturalized in Idaho (no idea why…).

Warren, regarding viruses. I would expect that it would work both ways. A wide cross could introduce characteristics such that a given virus would “no longer fit” as apparently happened when R. Setigera was formed (regarding Rose Rosette Virus).

If you are thinking along the lines that “RMV only got into roses because of apple/rose budding”. That was just a “postutate”. RMV is a group name for viruses that infect roses that give mosaic symptoms. Mosaic symptoms have been found in wild roses, and in “oil” roses cultivated by cuttings since the 16 th centuary. Another check was an attempt to infect apple trees with the viruses from roses. “Roses in Tasmania displaying bright yellow mosaics and line patterns reacted in ELISA with either ApMV, PNRSV-HP-1 antisera or PNRSV-G-like antisera. Isolates from rose did not infect young apple trees when grafted to them.” This is an example of close the “fit” has to be between virus and host. Acta Horticulturae

It is well known that viruses (and other pathogens for that matter) carry the ability to mutate as well as hop skip and jump in the natural world, both within the same host species as well as across species. This is a fairly natural event, has been happening since the dawn of time.

Warren I can understand the feeling that this is a dangerous thing. I am compelled by curiosity to want to open pandora’s box. But I could also see it leading to new disease resistance. But I think you do not necessarily need to create a hybrid in order to have diseases jump from one member of the family to the other.

I have tried unsuccessfully a couple of these type of crosses. The best I have been able to get is for the hips to stay on a little while before falling off. Perhaps one of these days I will try embryo rescue like they have done at times with daylilies and lilies.

I know a successful hybrid was reported by I believe it was Burbank between a rose and a strawberry but the resulting plants were a dead end.

This cross with Rubus odoratus is one I have wanted to try because Rubus odoratus contains blue pigments that are missing in roses.

Also bear in mind that random pollination by insects, animals and other natural means between all sorts of botanical species has already been occurring since the begining of time.

In a sense we are talking here events that are already happening every day in the natural world.

True True George but a lot of plants belonging in the same family bloom at different times making the hybrid impossible in nature, its like some roses (eg) R. Laevigata here in OZ ,it is in full bloom way before the other cultivars, which one has to store the pollen to make crosses, Then you have chemical barries within the stigma to stop unwanted pollen tubes from entering the ovary chamber, the list goes on and on.

I can see a cross of peach with rosa and see it develope Peach curly leaf LOL LOL I say no more.